Media statement 30 November 2017
30 November 2017
On 3 December, the 25th International Day for People with Disability will be celebrated across the globe.
This year’s theme is transformation towards a sustainable and resilient society for all.
The overarching theme this year is to leave no one behind and empower people with disability to be active contributors in society.
But this cannot be achieved without a vehicle for their voice and their rights.
Queensland’s Public Guardian, Natalie Siegel-Brown, is proud that Queensland has taken seriously its obligation under Article 16 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability, to ensure that all facilities and programs for people with disability are effectively monitored by independent authorities, by providing one of the most comprehensive community visiting and advocacy schemes in the World through the Office of the Public Guardian.
“Community Visitors are a vital safeguard in the systems that care for people with disability, many of these people have no voice in the systems that care for them.
“They are the ‘eyes and ears’ that see and hear what really happens on the ground in the delivery of services.
“In Queensland, they are equipped with the ‘teeth’ to complain and advocate on behalf of a person to ensure that their rights and interests are protected,” said Ms Siegel-Brown.
Community Visitors actively seek the views, wishes and preferences of people with disability in care, regarding their accommodation, care and treatment arrangements.
“Community Visitors are dedicated advocates who pursue the resolution of concerns both for, and with, the clients they support,” said Ms Siegel-Brown.
Given it is estimated that 72 per cent of active participants in the NDIS nationally will have a diagnosis of intellectual disability, autism or psychosocial disability, Community Visitors are vital in ensuring that these participants are able to make complaints, can access and navigate complaints mechanisms, and achieve resolution of issues that matter to them.
“The power of Community Visitors is enshrined in legislation - and this year, additional support and direction has been provided to community visitors to help them communicate with clients, particularly those who have complex communication barriers.
“Community Visitors conducted 5223 visits on behalf of 6542 vulnerable adults living at 1305 disability services, authorised mental health services and hostels in the last financial year.
“Through our visits, community visitors identified 1920 issues on behalf of people,” said Ms Siegel-Brown.
The Office of the Public Guardian also visited and advocated for 1539 children and young people with disability in the care system last financial year.
“Our overarching aim is to give a voice to the voiceless.
“We listen to our clients and identify issues they are facing, giving teeth to what we have found by advocating for them,” said Ms Siegel-Brown.
The Public Guardian, is proud of the role Community Visitors play, but remains vexed about how the Commonwealth will preserve the power of their role under the federal National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“There are questions that are still yet to be answered but are critical to the human rights of people with disability all over Queensland.
“Without community visitors, how will the voice of many people with disability who are vulnerable, non-verbal or isolated people be heard by those that govern these systems?” asks Ms Siegel-Brown.
International Day of People with Disabilities is a chance to recognise that each and every person living with disability has the potential to contribute hugely to their family and community, and we are proud of our role in not only ensuring their rights and interests are protected, but amplifying their voice.
Office of the Public Guardian media contact: (07) 3006 2589 or firstname.lastname@example.org