Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 October 2018) . . Page.. 4458 ..
There is provision for a declaration that a particular type of service does not require visitation. This is important because the current declaration of specialist disability services includes a wide range of services and support. If a person receives a service in their house for only a few hours a week, this would be unlikely to meet the threshold of being a visitable place for the purposes of the official visitors scheme, although a person would still be able to make a complaint or request a visit. The amendments also add a provision for a person with disability to ask not to be visited by the official visitor.
A final change to the visitable place definition concerns residential aged care facilities. Previously the definition, which stipulated a residential aged care facility that accommodates a person with a disability who is less than 65 years old, potentially suggested that accommodation provided to persons with a disability once they reached the age of 65 years would not be a visitable place. This age proviso has now been removed, while importantly retaining the official visitors’ ability to visit persons with a disability in residential aged care facilities.
The second amendment will allow the Director-General, Community Services Directorate, to comply with the legislated requirement to keep a register of visitable places, previously approved accommodation services. The register is a key mechanism to support the official visitors for disability services in their important role.
Prior to the introduction of the NDIS, information for the register was drawn from accommodation services run by or in receipt of funding from the ACT government. As the ACT government no longer has direct input into the delivery of services it no longer has sight of where individual properties are located.
In order to allow the maintenance of an up-to-date register of visitable places the bill compels service providers to report information to the director-general within five days of starting or taking on a new accommodation service. In addition, service providers relinquishing management of a visitable place to another provider are equally compelled to report this to the director-general. Service providers are already required to report a range of information to the Community Services Directorate under this act. The addition of information on accommodation will not create a significant burden.
Finally, the requirement to give 24 hours written notice before entering a visitable place would be removed from the Disability Services Act 1991 under this bill. Currently, this requirement can be avoided if the official visitors reasonably believe that a person with a disability is at risk of harm or has received a complaint or that person consents to the visit. Nevertheless, the official visitors and service providers have found this requirement to be impractical in the disability sector due to the large number of places to visit, the movements of people with disability from day to day and the communication difficulties experienced by many residents. Removal of this requirement will provide the flexibility necessary for arranging visits.
In making these amendments, due regard has been given to human rights and the bill’s compatibility with the Human Rights Act 2004. A balance has been sought between