Community Visitors visit Victorian accommodation facilities for people with disability or mental illness in their local area. 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.
Community Visitors are Victorian Governor in Council appointees, are appointed for a three-year term, and have significant powers of entry and inspection.
They visit unannounced and write a brief report at the conclusion of the visit detailing who they have spoken to, what documents they have looked at, any issues of concern, as well as good practice they have observed.
The responsibilities of Community Visitor volunteers include:
- spending 8-10 hours per month visiting facilities
- enquiring into the quality of services and care provided to residents or patients
- observing and, where possible communicating with residents or patients and staff, to identify problems
- ensuring that the treatment and service given to residents or patients maintains their dignity and respect
- assessing the opportunities available to residents or patients to participate in recreational and educational activities
- assessing whether living environments put patients or residents at risk
- following up on complaints and concerns raised by residents or patients
- liaising with staff and management to resolve identified issues
- referring broader or more serious issues to OPA.
Community Visitor streams
Disability Services Community Visitors visit group homes in the general community that house four to six residents who usually have some form of cognitive impairment such as an intellectual disability.
Mental Health Community Visitors visit inpatient facilities such as psychiatric units in public hospitals.
These may include: adult mental health units, child and adolescent mental health units, mother and baby units, eating disorder units, aged mental health units, community care units, and prevention and recovery centres.
Supported Residential Services
Supported Residential Services (SRS) Community Visitors visit premises where accommodation and personal support are privately provided or offered to residents for a fee.
This does not include aged care facilities, retirement villages, or disability accommodation services that are funded by the Commonwealth government.
The number of people in SRS can range from five to 60.
The people living in a SRS may include people with a mental illness, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury or drug and alcohol problems.