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What is the Community Visitors Scheme?

Older Australians experience high rates of loneliness and social isolation, but there are different initiatives to combat this issue and improve social connectedness and encourage social interaction in the community.

Last updated: September 14th 2022
The Community Visitors Scheme is an important service for older people that don’t have a lot of social engagement. [Source: iStock]

The Community Visitors Scheme is an important service for older people that don’t have a lot of social engagement. [Source: iStock]

Key points:

  • The Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) addresses the current loneliness and social isolation issue prevalent among older Australians

  • You need to be receiving a Government subsidised service to be eligible for the CVS

  • CVS is provided by selected organisations in each State and Territory

One such initiative is the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS), which targets loneliness and isolation amongst aged care recipients through companionship.

Sometimes the geographic location or family circumstances can result in senior Australians to become socially and physically isolated.

The CVS, an initiative from the Department of Health, uses volunteer visitors to meet with people on a regular basis to provide friendship and social inclusion.

As Australia’s population ages and since the elderly are living longer, the CVS is becoming incredibly important for social interaction and life-changing engagement.

The CVS improves quality of life to all involved with the program and has been proven to combat loneliness and isolation occurring in residential aged care or at home.

Older people who would benefit from the CVS include people who have little contact with family or friends, are isolated from their own culture or heritage, have issues with their mobility that prevents them from participating in social activities, or other personal issues that might make it difficult to engage socially.

The service focuses purely on companionship and your CVS volunteer will not provide personal assistance like cleaning, personal care or nursing.

What service is provided?

Under the Government initiative, a CVS volunteer will visit at least once a week for an hour. The volunteer will usually have similar hobbies, interests and likes to you, so that you are able to get along with the volunteer that visits you.

The CVS tries to connect like-minded individuals and recipients to facilitate a good friendship.

There are a number of different types of volunteer visits under CVS:

  • A residential volunteer visits a participant for a one-on-one visit at a residential aged care facility
  • Group residential volunteers visit a small group of residents at a residential aged care facility who have similar interests, like gardening or knitting
  • A home care volunteer visits a CVS recipient with an approved Home Care Package at their home once a week for one-on-one interaction

Volunteers cannot monitor your standards of care from your aged care service provider, be involved in any of your financial affairs, access your personal or care record information, provide any form of nursing or personal care, or follow up a complaint about your care.

Think of your volunteer visitor as a dear friend that has come over for a cup of coffee and a chat.

However, if your visiting volunteer is concerned about your health or care, they can report their concerns to their CVS auspice. This information can then be passed on to the provider.

Am I eligible?

If you are an older Australian who is at risk of or experiences loneliness, isolation or cultural loneliness, then you may be eligible for the Community Visitors Scheme.

However, you have to be receiving a Government subsidised Home Care Package or living in Government subsidised residential aged care to be eligible for visits.

An aged care provider, nursing home, medical centre, hospital, healthcare worker, home care worker, family member, friends, or even yourself, can refer you to the scheme.

The service is free for people eligible to receive the CVS program.

Vulnerable groups who are at a higher risk of feeling isolated or experiencing loneliness are an important consideration for eligibility.

This includes people from:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) communities
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
  • Rural or remote areas
  • Financially or socially disadvantaged
  • Homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
  • Veterans
  • Care leavers
  • Parents separated from their children by forced adoption or removal
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people

The above groups of people are also considered a part of a special needs group, which means the Government identifies these groups as having special requirements for the delivery of aged care services. You can learn more about special needs groups in our article, ‘Inclusive aged care: What are special needs groups?

States and Territory hubs

The Community Visitors Scheme is run by Government chosen “auspices”, also known as selected organisations, in each State and Territory.

Government funds these auspices to recruit volunteer visitors for the program.

You can contact a CVS auspice through your aged care provider, by contacting the Department of Health, by contacting the CVS member directly within your State or Territory, or phoning My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

State and Territory hubs are:

Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria is covered by the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Plus. For more information, head to their website or call on 1800 042 138.

Northern Territory is serviced by AnglicareNT. Contact the organisation on its website or call 08 8928 0620.

Queensland CVS is run by the Community Care Network (QCCN), visit their website or ring QCCN on 07 3379 7200.

South Australia has Southern Volunteering (SA) Inc running the CVS program. To find out more, head to their website or call on 08 8326 0020.

Tasmania‘s CVS network partner is Community Care Tasmania. Visit their website for more information or call 03 6334 0990.

Western Australia is serviced by Melville Cares Inc. To find out more, head to their website or call them on 08 9319 0900.

For any extra information about the CVS, contact the Government Health Department by calling 1800 020 103.

How would the CVS benefit you? Tell us in the comments below.

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  2. What is the Community Visitors Scheme?


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