Celebrating 25 years of the Official Community Visitor Scheme
This year marks 25 years of the Official Community Visitor (OCV) scheme, a program that ensures children, young people and people with disability are better supported while living in residential services across NSW.
NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner, Robert Fitzgerald AM, said the OCV scheme plays an important role in promoting and upholding the rights of children and young people living in out-of-home care, and of people with disability and additional needs living in supported accommodation and assisted boarding houses.
"OCVs are critical in ensuring any child, young person or person with disability living in supported accommodation has a voice in raising issues or concerns with their service provider about the care they receive," Mr Fitzgerald AM said.
"Over the past 25 years, OCVs have conducted over 70,000 visits and raised over 95,000 issues with visitable services across NSW. This is a fantastic achievement and provides a vital safeguard for vulnerable children and adults living in the care of residential services."
"Additionally, OCVs have influenced systemic change over the years, resulting in improved standards of care and outcomes for many people living in residential care. Today, I want to say thank you for your commitment to standing up for the rights and interests of children, young adults and people with disability across NSW."
Since March 2020 the Office of the Children's Guardian has had oversight of OCVs for children. NSW Children's Guardian Janet Schorer has been impressed with the commitment of OCVs to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in residential out-of-home care, people with disability in accommodation services and people living in boarding houses.
"This important oversight role is undertaken by people who are dedicated to improving the quality of services provided to very vulnerable people with the ultimate aim to prevent abuse and neglect. These services are better because of the OCVs."
Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward said OCVs also help service providers remain vigilant when addressing concerns of residents.
"The work of OCVs and their approach to resolving often complex issues is invaluable. I am grateful for the advice and support they provide, and for their consistent focus on the rights and needs of vulnerable people living in residential care."