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The Victorian Government is committed to strengthening and safeguarding the rights of vulnerable Victorians. Community Visitors work with some of the most marginalised people in our community to voice their concerns and safeguard their rights. In responding to the recommendations of the Community Visitors Annual Report 2015–2016, the government acknowledges the vital role played by Community Visitors, who as independent volunteers contribute their own time and effort to the community. Last year, Community Visitors conducted 5,268 service visits. Their recommendations provide valuable opportunities to make positive and sustainable service improvements.
In fulfilling their role, Community Visitors have focused on quality and safety issues in mental health services, private supported residential services and in accommodation services for people with a disability. While they respond to the specific concerns of the people who access their services, they also raise systemic issues and the broader needs of the public mental health, private supported residential services and community-based disability services sectors. The learnings and issues arising from the Community Visitors’ work across these three sectors, together with opportunities for change, are highlighted in the Community Visitors Annual Report 2015–2016.
Key themes raised in the report include concerns about the impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) on safeguards for all people with a disability; poor health outcomes for people with a disability; incident recording and reporting of incidents related to abuse, neglect and assault; and the impacts of resident incompatibility in facilities.
Since 2009–2010, Community Visitors have focused their service visits on the issues of abuse, neglect and assault of patients and residents. Reports of abuse and neglect have increased for disability services and supported residential services and remain unchanged for mental health services. These matters were also considered by the Victorian Ombudsman’s 2015 Investigation into Disability Abuse Reporting.