QUEENSLAND will retain its community visitor program in the disability sector, but the state’s Public Guardian Natalie Siegel-Brown has renewed calls for the introduction of a national aged care program.
The Queensland state government will retain the program at disability sites throughout the state from July 1 next year when its full roll-out out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will be complete.
The future of the program had been uncertain for several months due to the establishment of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Framework and concerns about how the program would interact with a federal oversight body.
Ms Siegel-Brown commended the state government for acknowledging the importance of the program to vulnerable members of the community and urged the federal government to establish a program for the aged care sector.
“Community visitors are a vital safeguard in the systems that care for people with disability, many of these people have no voice in the systems that care for them,” she said
“They are the eyes and ears that see and hear what really happens on the ground in the delivery of services.”
She said community visitors were dedicated advocates who worked hard to ensure the rights and interests of vulnerable people were protected.
Community visitors identified 1,788 issues during 4,781 visits to disability sites from 2017-18 with a significant proportion related to safety and security – including complaints of abuse.
Ms Siegel-Brown said the success of the program in identifying problems in Queensland’s disability sector highlighted the importance of establishing a similar federal aged care program.
“I am calling for the implementation of an oversight body with ‘teeth’ to identify, investigate and advocate for residents in aged care on all issues relating to abuse, neglect and exploitation and especially where it comes to the unregulated use of restrictive practices.”
“This is especially important given the fact that the terms of reference of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety are disappointingly vague on the subject of restrictive practices.”
For more information on community visitors, click here.