There are currently six Community Visitor Schemes for people with disability operating across Australia, one in each state and territory except Western Australia and Tasmania. Each scheme operates differently and separately from the others.
Community Visitor Schemes are the responsibility of state and territory governments.
The Review explored the potential role of Community Visitor Schemes in the context of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework, and makes recommendations within the overall commitment made by all governments to building a nationally consistent and responsive quality and safeguarding system that supports participant choice and control in the NDIS market.
The Review was informed by consultations with a wide range of stakeholders including people with disability, disability advocates, state and territory government offices and community visitor schemes employees and volunteers. The project was overseen by a working group comprising representatives from all states and territories, the National Disability Insurance Agency and the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission, chaired and coordinated by the Department of Social Services.
The Review methods included face-to-face meetings and interviews in every capital city, as well as telephone interviews and an online survey.
Findings of the Review
The Review recommends that Community Visitor Schemes for disability, while having a broader scope than the NDIS, have a contribution to make to the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework, and that the contribution should be formally recognised within the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework.
The Review also recommends that Community Visitor Schemes, where they exist, continue to be provided by states and territories.
A finding of the Review notes support for community visiting as a key mechanism to achieve independent oversight of institutional settings both within the disability service system and mainstream settings such as justice and health, and notes adequate funding is required. The Review also notes that in the long term, there appear to be strong reasons to align community visiting of people with disability within a broader adult protection paradigm encompassing safeguarding in mental health institutions and other facilities.