May 2019: The Community Visitor Scheme (CVS) has received advice from the Department Human Services (DHS) that we are no longer able to visit and/or advocate for clients in Non-Government Organisations who provide disability services due to our previous Regulations being under the Disability Services Act 1993, a funding Act, and where we now have a situation that individuals get funding via the NDIS. This also includes Supported Residential Facilities and Day Option programs.
We are concerned about this sudden change and the lack of certainty for the CVS but are trying to remain positive and explore a range of future options with Government and the department.
Clients and their families will now be subject to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, who have a range of quality checks such as audits, registration and complaints handling, and will visit clients if concerns are raised through a combination of these checks. In contrast, the CVS has always applied community values and scrutiny to their visits, reflecting on how we would want a service to be for a loved one (a family member) and how we would want our loved one communicated to or responded to by staff. The CVS has been proactive in trying to get to all houses where people with disability reside, rather than just those where concerns or information gathering suggests there could be a problem.
In other States, Community Visitor Scheme amendments have been made to ensure Community Visitors (CVs) will continue visiting NGOs. Legislation and regulation amendments have not been undertaken in South Australia at this stage, although we are sincerely hoping the government and DHS will want to maintain the CVS and are exploring how we may be able to visit those under the Guardianship of the Public Advocate.
This change has been difficult for our CVs and staff, who have committed an enormous amount of time and energy over the past 6 years to the integrity of what we do. Families and clients have valued what we do, as have non-government disability service providers, Supported Residential Facilities' management and Day Option program providers.
We are hopeful that the CVS will continue to build upon this foundation into the future and will keep you informed as we work with the Government and department on this important safeguarding role.
The following information is correct for mental health facilities, including community mental health facilities, and government-run disability accommodation. At this stage, the CVS is not conducting visits to non-government disability accommodation, Supported Residential Facilities or Day Option programs.
The Community Visitor Scheme aims to protect the rights of people living with disability or mental illness who are:
- receiving care in a mental health treatment centre
- attending a community mental health facility
- living in state-run disability accommodation
Community Visitors visit and inspect facilities and provide advocacy and support to the people there.
The Principal Community Visitor and Community Visitors are independent statutory officers. Their independence is vital to the Scheme. Clients, carers and family members can speak freely to them, knowing they are not attached to service providers.
The legislative framework for the Community Visitor Scheme comes from The South Australian Mental Health Act 2009 and the Disability Services (Community Visitor Scheme) Regulations 2013.
You can read the legislation relevant to the Community Visitor Scheme on other websites: