Protecting the rights of children in visitable sites
All children and young people living in foster care, kinship care, residential care, or residing in youth detention centres, authorised mental health service and disability sites are entitled to a community visitor. This is regardless of whether they are in the child protection system or not.
Who is the Office of the Public Guardian?
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is a statutory office—independent of Government—which protects the rights, interests and wellbeing of vulnerable Queenslanders.
What is a visitable site?
For children and young people in care a visitable site is a place, other than a private dwelling, where children and young people in the child protection system are living.
Visitable sites include residential facilities, authorised mental health services under the Mental Health Act 2016 which provides inpatient services, residential forensic disability services, adult corrective facilities and youth detention centres.
All children and young people are visited in visitable sites even if they are not in the child protection system.
What is the community visitor program for children in out of home care?
The community visitor program aims to ensure children and young people in foster care, kinship care or residential care are safe and well and are being properly cared for. The guiding principle behind the Public Guardian Act 2014 is that the best interests of the child are always paramount and that their wellbeing is protected.
A community visitor's power of entry and inspection
A CV can do everything they believe necessary to ensure children are safe and well and are being properly cared for. A CV can enter a visitable site during normal hours (8am-6pm) without notice or outside these hours with the public guardian’s authorisation.
During a visit the CV can inspect the site and talk to children living there in private i.e. out of the hearing of other people, including the site’s staff.
Staff members are required to answer questions and may also be asked to talk to the CV in private.
Staff members must provide the CV with any relevant documentation if requested to do so and the CV is allowed to copy and take extracts from the documentation if they think it relevant.