Advocacy and investigation
The Office of the Public Advocate can, on request, examine the personal and financial welfare of people with decision-making disabilities in order to advocate on their behalf.
The advocacy provided to individuals with decision-making disabilities includes:
- investigation of the circumstances of those people for whom an application to appoint a guardian or administrator is made to the State Administrative Tribunal
- representation at hearings of the Tribunal by providing comprehensive information and advising on the need for a guardian or administrator
- responding to community concerns that indicate a person is in need of a guardian or administrator or is under an inappropriate guardianship or administration order.
As part of the investigation process, the Public Advocate either:
- seeks to determine if an application to the Tribunal is necessary when concern is raised by a community member or
- advises the Tribunal on the need for a guardianship and/or administration order (when an application to the Tribunal has been made).
In conducting investigations the Public Advocate:
- examines whether it is in the best interests of an adult with a decision-making disability to have a guardian or administrator appointed
- advocates for the appointment of a guardian or administrator when there is no other way of meeting the person's needs
- investigates complaints or concerns from the public that indicate a person with a decision-making disability may be at risk of neglect, exploitation or abuse and may be in need of a guardian or administrator, or may be under an inappropriate order
- investigates whether a person held in custody under the Criminal Law (Mentally Impaired Accused Act) 1996 is in need of a guardian and/or administrator.
In carrying out their inquiries, investigators gather as much information as possible. This usually involves interviewing friends, family and service providers and seeking the views of the person who is the subject of the application or community referral.
Investigators play a key role in seeking less restrictive alternatives to the appointment of a guardian and help family members become better informed about the role of substitute decision-makers.
Investigations may identify ways of resolving a problem without resorting to a guardianship or administration order. This is consistent with the principles set out in Section 4 of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990, which advocate resolving matters in the least restrictive way.
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