Bureaucratic practices restrict reasonable rights!
NDIS places consumers front and centre, but not Victoria’s bureaucrats
Those who live in shared supported accommodation group homes for people with intellectual and multiple disabilities, throughout Victoria, are some of our most vulnerable citizens.
They are unable to properly and effectively represent themselves per se, and especially within a very closed and restricted environment and lifestyle of a group home. Such was the case in institutions, but more so - conditions were often shocking.
Community opinion finally broke some of the bureaucratic restrictive practices which maintained the poor conditions for the vulnerable residents of institutions, to allow some insight by the new concept - official visitors. Despite the word ‘official’, official visitors had no legal standing and few rights.
Finally, in 1986, public opinion achieved legislative approval for public insight in the form of the community visitor program under the Intellectually Disabled Persons’ Services Act 1986. Community visitors are now under the Disability Act 2006.
Community visitors are volunteers from the community with the legislative power to visit residential accommodation services funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (Victoria) without notice or approval – like police with a warrant.
When the program first started, well trained community visitors were actively encouraged and supported to look into every aspect of shared supported accommodation services. They were especially encouraged to speak confidentially with those residents who could, and with the stakeholders (Parents, families, etc) of those who had little or no expressive communications and/or intellectual capacity to evaluate the support services they were receiving or were intended to receive.
Initial community visitors were provided with business cards having a provision for their personal phone number, and with large posters to promote the program and themselves. The main intention being to give vulnerable people and their stakeholders assurance they were being offered help from unbiased community people – not officialdom from entrenched bureaucrats.
Disappointingly, the program was soon watered down by bureaucrats of the Office of the Public Advocate that community visitors no longer, following their group home inspection visit, contact stakeholders of those residents who do not have the level of ability necessary to properly and fully evaluate the complex support service they are receiving or are intended to receive.
Consequently, inspection reports for such group homes, which community visitors present to the service provider on the completion of the inspection, do not contain service evaluation from the users of the service - the consumers (residents and their stakeholders).
We have seen so many community visitor reports, obtained under FOI, which bear little relationship to the reality of the support services being received or intended to be received by the consumer. This is an infringement of reasonable human rights and social justice.
The matter of the consumer not being the centre of service evaluation was placed before the VEOHRC (Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission) who, after six months of deliberation, gave up.
This infringement of human rights and social justice in Victoria will not be solved in the foreseeable future through service being funded by the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), as their “National Service Quality and Safeguarding Framework” and their “Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) will not be operationally available for at least two years.
In which time, NDIS funded service providers will be subject to existing state regulations and regulators. It is, therefore, very much business as usual for such pseudo state government departments as the Office of the Public Advocate and their community visitor program ignoring consumers – the very people who should be front and centre.
Extra 1: Monitoring the disability sector is flawed
Extra 2: Parents raise concerns
Extra 4: Protecting Group Home Residents
Extra 3: Care Quality Commission - UK
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