Statement by Victoria’s Public Advocate, Colleen Pearce re: Hambleton House

I am well-aware of, and deeply concerned, by issues relating to the COVID-19 outbreak at Hambleton House. My staff and I are monitoring the situation and are in regular communication with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

OPA’s Community Visitors visit Victorian accommodation facilities for people with disability or mental illness. They monitor and report on the adequacy of the services provided and, where possible, communicate with residents or patients to ensure they are being treated with dignity and respect.

For the past two years, my staff and I have been escalating concerns about Hambleton House, identified by Community Visitors during their monthly visits to the facility. I have also provided suggestions to the regulator, the Department of Health and Human Services, about how Supported Residential Services facilities can be better regulated and supported.

Further details will be included in the 2020 Community Visitor Annual Report that will be tabled in Parliament later this year.
Many of the residents of Hambleton House have multiple conditions and complex needs and few, if any, alternative accommodation options. Nonetheless, I believe significant changes need to be put in place before they can return, even after the end of Stage 4 restrictions.

OPA strongly advocates for protecting the human rights and dignity of all people with disability and we aim to work constructively with service providers to identify the best way this can be achieved.

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