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Community Visitor - Disability, Mental Health, Supported Residential Services

Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) for western suburbs of Melbourne

This role is advertised by Volunteer West, the volunteer resource centre of Australian Multicultural Community Services on behalf of Office of the Public Advocate

1. What do Community Visitors do? Community Visitors are the eyes and ears of the community. They safeguard and uphold the human rights of people with disabilities and/or mental illness by visiting accommodation facilities and monitoring and reporting on the adequacy of services being provided.

They talk to residents and/or patients to ensure they are being treated with dignity and respect. Community Visitors visit facilities within their local area in pairs. Community Visitors are Victorian Governor in Council appointees who have significant powers of entry and inspection and usually visit unannounced.

They write a brief report at the end of the visit detailing who they have spoken to (residents/patients and staff), what documents they have looked at, any issues of concern and any good practices they have observed.

2. Where do Community Visitors visit? Community Visitors visit in one of three streams:

  • Disability Services Community Visitors visit homes in the community known as 'group homes'. There are four to six residents in each group home who usually have some form of cognitive impairment such as an intellectual disability.

  • Mental Health Community Visitors visit inpatient facilities, the majority of which are mental health units in public hospitals. These may include: adult mental health units, child and adolescent mental health units, mother and baby and eating disorder units, aged mental health units, community care units and Prevention and Recovery Centres.

  • Supported Residential Services (SRS) Community Visitors visit SRS which provide accommodation and support for people who need help in everyday life. The number of people in these facilities can range from five to sixty. SRS residents may include people with a mental illness, intellectual disability, acquired brain injury or drug and alcohol problems. SRS are privately owned and operated.

3. Key Criteria for Becoming a Community Visitor

  • An interest in and commitment to the rights of people with disability in eligible services.
  • The ability to promote the dignity of residents of eligible services.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • The ability to develop an understanding of relevant legislation and other key information relating to the Community Visitor Program.
  • The skills necessary to objectively assess the standard of services, the adequacy of services and the care and treatment being provided to residents of eligible services.
  • The skills and knowledge to identify issues and be able to work towards resolutions in the best interests of the residents.
  • The ability to contribute to and prepare reports of visits.
  • The ability to work collaboratively as part of a panel of Community Visitors and to contribute to the work of the Community Visitor Program.

A minimum 2 year commitment is required. (Breaks/holidays/leave can be taken during this period.)