About visitor schemes

Commissioner Margaret Nyland’s report, The life they deserve[1], recommended that a community visitors’ scheme be developed for children in residential and emergency care facilities[2]. The laws to enable such a scheme have been included in the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.

About community visitor schemes

Community visiting schemes can play a central role in safeguarding the rights and wellbeing of vulnerable people who are in institutional settings away from family and other supports. They provide an independent voice to make sure their views are considered when decisions are made that affect them. Community visitors protect and promote human rights by providing direct advocacy and personal support.

Such schemes have been implemented in many places around Australia and overseas. The South Australian Community Visitor Scheme, for example, has operated since 2011 to ‘further protect the rights of people with a mental illness who are admitted to mental health care units and limited treatment centres and people with a disability who live in a disability accommodation facility or a Supported Residential Facility’[3].

Similarly, the Queensland Office of the Public Guardian operates a community visitor program that is designed to protect the rights and interests of adults with impaired capacity and children and young people in out-of-home care[4]. Under that scheme, community visitors regularly visit children and young people in what are termed ‘visitable locations’ such as foster homes, homes of kinship carers, residential care facilities, youth detention centres and mental health facilities, to help ensure they are safe and well and that their needs are being met in line with approved standards of care[5].

In Australia, community visiting schemes are often legally required to provide a report on their work to the relevant Minister who makes it public by presenting it to Parliament. Such reports inform the public.  They provide independent scrutiny and oversight and are intended to inform changes in policy and practice to improve the system.

Watch for further information on the Child and Young Person’s Visitor scheme by subscribing to the Guardian's Information Service.

Contact

Please email Jordan Bell, Principal Community Advocate or phone 8226 8570.

 

[1]  The Hon Margaret Nyland AM, The life they deserve: the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report (August 2016).

[2]  Recommendation 137 states in full: “legislate for the development of a community visitors’ scheme for children in all residential and emergency care facilities”.

[3]  Principal Community Visitor Annual Report Mental Health Services 2015-16, The South Australian Community Visitor Scheme (2016).

[4]  Office of the Public Guardian Annual Report 2015-2016, Office of the Public Guardian (2016).

[5]  Ibid.