OPA supports more than 650 volunteers who provide support for people with disability or mental illness across Victoria.
OPA's volunteers are from a variety of backgrounds, age groups, and communities. They work across three programs: Community Visitor Program, Independent Third Persons Program and the Community Guardianship Program. They fulfil their responsibilities with professionalism, compassion, and with the rights of people with disability in mind at all times.
Independent Third Person Program
Independent Third Persons (ITPs) attend police interviews for adults and young people with disability to ensure that they are not disadvantaged during the interview process. Police interviews often require people to comprehend complex issues and information quickly, understand their legal rights, and be able to communicate with people in positions of authority.
Corrections Independent Support Officer Program
Corrections Independent Support Officers (CISO) provide assistance and support to prisoners with a diagnosed intellectual disability during disciplinary hearings, at all adult prisons in Victoria. All CISOs are experienced volunteer Independent Third Persons (ITPs). OPA draws all volunteer CISOs from current ITPs and does not accept volunteers from outside this program.
Community Guardian Program
In some cases, the Public Advocate may delegate her power of guardianship to to a volunteer participating in the OPA Community Guardian program. The key responsibilities of Community Guardians are to promote the best interests of the person with disability, ensure that decisions are the least restrictive to the person’s freedom, take into account the wishes of the person and, where possible, put them into effect.
OPA's Community Visitors are volunteers empowered by law to visit Victorian disability accommodation services, supported residential services and mental health facilities and enquire into the wellbeing of residents and patients.