“it is great to know there is an advocate here, as you can feel very powerless in the system; it has been helpful to talk with a community visitor" - C/2014/46


Working with the person receiving treatment to decide the best way forward.

Sometimes, a person who is receiving mental health or disability services believes that issues of significance to him or her are not receiving adequate attention from staff.

Worrying about personal issues may have a considerable impact on the quality of your hospital stay or experience of treatment. The CVP sees its advocacy role as extremely important and works to ensure that the views and wishes of the person being treated are heard.

The CVP values the voice and opinion of the person receiving treatment. We believe that this type of feedback is incredibly valuable. It helps us identify the need for change and improvement in certain areas. It also helps us identify those actions and behaviours that are helpful and supportive and those that are not.

The community visitor will work with the person receiving treatment to decide the best way forward. This may involve the person speaking to staff with or without the community visitor present, or the community visitor speaking to staff on the person's behalf. It is useful to talk to staff immediately because it may be that they are already trying to address the issue, and finding this out is reassuring for the person receiving treatment. The community visitor will remain involved until the issue is resolved.

The Community Visitor Program also has a systems advocacy role. Community Visitors and Panels are empowered under legislation to inquire into and make recommendations regarding adequacy of services, standard and appropriateness of facilities, adequacy of rights and other broader issues which impact on the rights and experiences of clients.

If a complaint or series of complaints indicates that there may be a broader problem, community visitors will report this to the Principal Community Visitor. The Principal Community Visitor may then refer the matter to a community visitors panel for further investigation. If the panel determines there is a problem that should be rectified, they will raise this with management of the service to determine the most appropriate resolution. If the issue is not resolved or the urgency of the issue requires immediate attention, the panel may then make a recommendation to the service.

Examples of issues that have been referred to a community visitors panel for investigation include concerns about the way some voluntary admissions are managed and concerns about inpatient services for adolescents in Darwin and Alice Springs in the area of Mental Health. In Disability, the efficacy of treatment and quality & safety framework issues have been referred.