Page 630 - Week 02 - Thursday, 16 February 2017

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I ask leave to make a statement in relation to the paper.

Leave granted.

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I am pleased to table in the Legislative Assembly today the disability services official visitor annual report for 2015-2016. The Official Visitor Act 2012 requires me as operational minister for the Disability Services Act 1991 to provide to the Legislative Assembly an annual report collating the information received by the operational minister throughout the year from the Official Visitors appointed under the act.

The role of Official Visitors, as members may know, is to visit, talk with, receive and consider complaints from and exercise other functions in relation to people considered to be an entitled person under the Disability Services Act 1991. In this capacity the Official Visitors are also required to report to me as the relevant minister on occasions where, on reasonable grounds, the visitor believes the care arrangements or living conditions of a person receiving support at a visitable place are inadequate or where a complaint has been made.

The Official Visitor program is one part of a suite of important oversight and quality assurance mechanisms designed to provide rigorous scrutiny of and support to services, with the goal of ensuring the best possible outcomes for people with disability in the ACT. This system includes the formal oversight functions of the Public Advocate, the Disability and Community Services Commissioner and the Human Services Registrar, as well as informal mechanisms such as advocacy and support through the newly established Office for Disability and other community advocacy bodies like ADACAS.

The 2015-16 Official Visitor annual report describes an overall positive environment in terms of care and support in disability accommodation services. The report commends the then Disability ACT staff for their work throughout the transition to the national disability insurance scheme, acknowledging that the change was challenging for them but that a high standard of assistance and information exchange was maintained.

The Official Visitor annual report points to particular concerns for younger people living in aged-care facilities. The level of care is generally noted to be good, but the options for younger people to engage in age-appropriate activities can be few, access to the community can be limited, and autonomy can, at times, be curtailed. Concerns were also noted that knowledge about the national disability insurance scheme and the supports that might be available to younger residents may be insufficient, which could result in those people being unaware of possible alternative options available to them.

The report also points to challenges arising from the transfer of former Disability ACT properties to the community resulting in complexity over what now constitutes a “visitable place”. This issue is currently under investigation by the Human Services Registrar. The ongoing work of the Official Visitor for Disability Services, including

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