The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:36): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Human Services a question regarding the Community Visitor Scheme.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: The community visitor can now only visit state-operated services. This leaves thousands of people living in services now principally funded through the NDIS (that is non-government services) without access to the community visitor. The opposition is aware that many operators and residents would prefer the oversight of the community visitor, with organisations prepared to sign agreements with the community visitor to allow entry.
In July, the minister stated she was working with the Attorney-General's Department to make the appropriate legislative arrangements to allow the visitor to continue their important and vital work. The minister explained that the Victorian government has made the legislative changes required to allow the community visitor to continue to visit non-government schools.
My question to the minister is: why is it that the Victorian government has been able to make the legislative changes required to allow the community visitor to continue to visit non-government services in June 2019, and yet the South Australian government has not, leaving vulnerable South Australians at risk?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:37): I thank the honourable member for his question. At the outset, can I reject the last assertion in his comments, because all the NDIS participants—and South Australia is now at full scheme—are funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme and therefore their services are registered and regulated through the quality and safeguarding commission, which is part of the new system that has been operative in South Australia since 1 July of this year, and that is now the appropriate oversight body for regulation of services.
We have, indeed, had a Community Visitor Scheme for mental health and disability in South Australia for some time. I was actually the person who moved the amendments to the Mental Health Act, whenever it was some time ago, that established the Community Visitor Scheme under the Mental Health Act, which was then extended to disability services. Disability services were able to be visited through the funding arrangements that the South Australian government held with providers.
I do understand, as I have received representations on the matters that the honourable member has raised, but it is also important to remember that, regardless of what the providers themselves might think, it's actually somebody's home that we are talking about. It is like inviting someone into someone else's home without their permission, I think is the analogy that should be made. Providers can also, if they wanted to, in some way approach the community visitor to use that service as a quality assurance process, which is what a number of them found useful. Then that is something that could also be looked at.
We have also made some changes recently which the honourable member referred to. He might have missed the more recent media in which we have been able to extend the role of the Community Visitor Scheme to include people who are under guardianship of the Public Advocate. That has extended that to a cohort of—it is several hundred people, from memory.
So the participants who are still in state-funded, state-run government properties are still covered by the community visitor, as are that cohort of people under the Public Advocate, and the quality and safeguarding commission is the appropriate place for regulation, complaints and so forth for anyone who is a fully transitioned NDIS participant who is not covered under those state areas I have referred to.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:40): Supplementary: given that visits by officers of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission are only undertaken when a problem is reported and that the community visitor had a proven track record of uncovering issues with random visits, will the minister admit that a combination of these two approaches is the key to moving forward?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:41): I think the honourable member misunderstands what the quality and safeguarding commission can do. They can do unannounced visits. I have heard people in the disability community make the claim that they can't; they can. As recently as last week I have seen a letter signed by the federal minister, the Hon. Stuart Robert, that says that the commission certainly is able to do that.
I think one of the lessons that we have to learn from Oakden, if I can remind Labor members of that disastrous experience, is that when you have multiple agencies who have oversight, they need to be clear about what their roles are. The primary investigation body for these issues now is the quality and safeguarding commission. I have certainly made numerous representations to the commonwealth government that I believe that a Community Visitor Scheme is a useful adjunct to that as we go forward. We are yet to receive the final report that the commonwealth has commissioned on that matter. That is a position that I continue to argue.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:42): When will the minister table the findings of the 2018 review of the community visitor schemes across Australia given the embargoed copies were sent to stakeholders nearly one year ago, in January 2019?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:42): I haven't received that report yet. It's not for me to table; it's a commonwealth report.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Wortley, a further supplementary.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:43): Yes. Is it true that the findings of the report are overwhelmingly for the continuance of the community visitor schemes as they were before the transfer of the NDIS?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:43): I can't comment on a report that I haven't received.
The Hon. R.P. Wortley: Well, everyone else—the stakeholders—have got it. You haven't got it.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Well, no, they shouldn't have released it. It's under embargo. Do you know what 'under embargo' means? If anybody has—
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Sorry, I haven't finished yet.
The PRESIDENT: Through me, minister, through me.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: If anybody has publicly commented on this report, they should not have done so.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Wortley—
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Wortley!
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY: Supplementary, Mr President.
The PRESIDENT: Only because you are an ex-president am I going to allow a supplementary after that tirade. You must promise me not to do another tirade until the end of question time.
The Hon. R.P. WORTLEY (14:44): The tirade came from the minister. When will the minister be introducing legislation to ensure this problem is fixed?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (14:44): I haven't committed to do so.
The PRESIDENT: The Hon. Mr Wortley! You had your say.