Community Visitor Scheme


I rise to firstly move an amendment to the motion moved by the member for which she has presented her argument. I move:

(a) Delete 'plays in protecting the' and insert 'has played in advocating for the'

(b) Delete 'accepts' and 'as important components of the South Australian bureaucracy in holding the government of the day to account' and insert 'work of the' after the words 'values the independence of the Community Visitor Scheme and the'

Delete paragraphs (c) and (d) and insert the following in lieu:

(c) notes the findings of the Principal Community Visitor 2017-18 Annual Report tabled in parliament in October 2018 regarding the treatment and care of several clients living with a disability under state care;

(d) notes that the state government is committed to investigating, addressing and responding to matters raised by the Principal Community Visitor within its scope of responsibility;'


(e) notes that the role of the Disability Community Visitor Scheme has changed due to the transition to the NDIS with the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission now having legislative responsibility as an independent agency to protect NDIS participants, complaints, incident investigations, and improve quality and safety supports;

(f) recognises the work the state government is undertaking to navigate broad and complex policy, governance and legislative issues regarding the role of the CVS for people with disability going forward to ensure nationally consistent, high-quality and sustainable safe supports for people with disability; and

(g) acknowledges the exemplary service of Maurice Corcoran AM as the Principal Community Visitor for over eight years.

I am advised that, in relation to paragraph (d), there is an addition of the words:

notes that the state government is committed to investigating, addressing and responding to matters raised by the Principal Community Visitor within the scope of responsibility.

I am providing a copy of the amendment proposals, together with the rewritten paragraphs, which I hope is of assistance to the house.

The Marshall Liberal government acknowledges the outstanding efforts of Maurice Corcoran AM, who has led the South Australian Community Visitor Scheme for over eight years. I note that the mover of the motion has done so also. We join with her in that regard. The government continues to be committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our community. It is important to note that independent statutory officers, such as the Principal Community Visitor, play an important role in line with their legislative functions and powers.

As a government, we welcome their independent scrutiny, advocacy and advice. In fact, the Principal Community Visitor was established under the Mental Health Act 2009, and I was proudly a member of the then opposition that moved amendments to ensure that this scheme was established under the Mental Health Act and to confer the powers and functions in respect of mental health. At present, it does not apply to disability facilities, as has been acknowledged.

The Disability Services Act 1993 and the Disability Services (Community Visitor Scheme) Regulations 2013 conferred additional functions on the Community Visitors, enabling them to visit disability accommodation premises and day option programs to assess certain matters relating to the services provided. This scope is limited to disability services either provided by or funded by the state government under the Disability Services Act. However, the scope of the disability component of the CV scheme is changing due to the transition to NDIS, as disability services are no longer funded by the state government. The mental health component of the scheme will continue under the Mental Health Act 2009 until such time as the state parliament amends or revokes that legislation. I hope that is of some reassurance to members.

Under the NDIS, the Quality and Safeguards Commission now has legislative responsibility for complaints, incident investigation and quality standards. That previously sat with the state government. The role of the disability CVS under NDIS is therefore a complex issue which involves the interaction between state and commonwealth legislation, powers and responsibilities.

Our state government is continuing to work through these matters around the role of the CVS going forward. This involves navigating interrelated policy areas, including the NDIS and the role of the Quality and Safeguards Commission, as well as the legislative powers and governance responsibilities at both the state and commonwealth level. Whilst I acknowledge the mover's indication of her view on the limitation of the usefulness of the Quality and Safeguards Commission in respect of random audits, for example, these are matters that are currently under consideration and being navigated.

In the meantime, South Australia is continuing to advocate for national consistency and approaches to quality and safeguarding for people with disability. It is also important to remember that the response in South Australia is sustainable, carefully considered and fits within the legislative landscape and statutory responsibilities in our state. In addition, the role and approach of the Quality and Safeguards Commission is continuing to evolve.

On 16 October, the government announced an expanded mandate for the scheme through a legal deregulation of powers under the Guardianship and Administration Act. The CVS can now visit vulnerable people who are NDIS participants who are under the guardianship of the Public Advocate. Around 550 National Disability Insurance Scheme participants are currently under guardianship and this number is expected to grow. As the Attorney-General who is responsible for matters relating to the Public Advocate, I am pleased that she took up this role to ensure that we have continuity in relation to the obligations in this area.

There are many mechanisms in South Australia that individuals and families can utilise to raise issues and complaints, depending on the nature of the complaint. These include the Department for Health and Wellbeing, the Department of Human Services, the local health networks, the Office of the Chief Psychiatrist, the Office of the Public Advocate, the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner and the South Australian Ombudsman.

NDIS participants or their families who have any concerns can contact the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission directly. I think it is incumbent on all of us who, as members of this parliament, have a leadership role in our communities to ensure that, if members of our community or their family require assistance in this regard, we continue to advocate for them and ensure that we utilise the services and that they have access to the services that are available.

Transition can be difficult. Obviously, big change comes with those consequences, but we are committed as a government to see this through and to ensure we have a better service for those in our community who require this as it transitions. Any matter of care concern referred by the Department of Human Services by the Principal Community Visitor has been followed up, investigated where necessary and appropriate action taken. I am assured that that will continue and, as a member of the government, I will support any action to ensure that that occurs. I commend the amended motion to the parliament.