Who are Official Visitors?
Official Visitors are appointed by the Minister for Mental Health under the NSW Mental Health Act 2007. The purpose of the Official Visitors Program is to keep humanity in mental health care. The functions are set out in the NSW Mental Health Act 2007.
What Official Visitors Do:
- Official Visitors regularly visit declared mental health facilities and community mental health services across NSW to ensure mental health care is being provided in a humane and dignified way.
- Official Visitors speak to consumers in mental health facilities and those under the care of community mental health services to understand their experiences and listen to any concern they may have. They provide support, advice and advocacy to consumers who need it, and ensure that consumers voices are heard and respected.
- Official Visitors review medical records and other relevant documentation to ensure that consumers are receiving appropriate care and that their rights are being protected. They also check that any restrictions on consumer’s rights are necessary and reasonable.
- Official Visitors ensure that all mental health services are adhering to relevant NSW Health policies and guidelines.
- Official Visitors also provide a statewide phoneline and a box in each mental health facility for consumers, their families and carers as well as staff to make contact with Official Visitors if they have questions or concerns regarding the care they are receiving.
Functions of Official Visitors in the
NSW Mental Health Act 2007:
- To refer matters raising any significant public mental health issues or patient safety or care or treatment issues to the Principal Official Visitor or any other appropriate person or body
Mental Health Act 2007 S129(3)(a)
- To act as an advocate for patients to promote the proper resolution of issues arising in the mental health system, including issues raised by a designated carer or principal care provider of a patient or person detained under the Act
Mental Health Act 2007 S129(3)(b)
- To inspect mental health facilities as directed by the Principal Official Visitor
Mental Health Act 2007 S129(3)(c)
- Any other function conferred on Official Visitors by or under this or any other Act
Mental Health Act 2007 S129(3)(d)