Greens begin consultation on protecting people in care Bill

Date posted: 
10 January 2012

MEDIA RELEASE

Amanda Bresnan MLA, Health, Disability, Housing and Corrections Spokesperson, ACT Greens

10 January 2012

ACT Greens Health, Disability, Housing and Corrections spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, has today released an Exposure Draft of the Public Advocate (Official Visitors) Amendment Bill 2012 for consultation.

The draft legislation seeks to provide vulnerable people in care with a stronger complaints process that is independent of Government. 

"Vulnerable people living somewhere where they are being cared for or held, have a limited ability to speak up for themselves to make sure they are treated fairly," Ms Bresnan said today.

"That is why the community has 'Official Visitors' to inspect places where vulnerable people are being held or live, and advocate on their behalf if they have complaints or problems. Such facilities traditionally include mental health wards, correctional facilities, and orphanages. 

"The Greens Bill proposes a number of improvements to the way Official Visitors operate, many of which have been promised by Governments over the last decade but never implemented. 

"The changes seek to provide Official Visitors with greater empowerment to more strongly represent vulnerable people living in or being held in care. This will be achieved by having Official Visitors sit within the Office of the Public Advocate, and removing the direct funding relationship Official Visitors currently have with the Directorates. 

"The changes also seek to broaden the scope of Official Visitors to enable them to visit places where people aren't necessarily being held against their will, but have little choice to be elsewhere. Examples being people with disabilities in group homes, or people staying in accommodation run by a non-government provider. 

"While we no longer have institutions, there are many vulnerable people being held or living in situations over which they have little choice or control. The Greens want to strengthen the ACT's Official Visitors to give vulnerable people a voice," Ms Bresnan said. 

The Exposure Draft of the Public Advocate (Official Visitors) Amendment Bill 2012 is available for public comment until 24 February 2012. The Bill and an accompanying discussion paper can be accessed at http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ed/db_43749/default.asp