Report abuse - Office of the Public Guardian

Report abuse

People with impaired capacity are amongst the most vulnerable members of our society. The Office of the Public Guardian safeguards their rights and interests by investigating allegations of neglect, exploitation and abuse.

We can investigate allegations of harm against people with impaired capacity. This includes all types of abuse, which can be:

  • physical
  • sexual
  • psychological, such as threats and harassment
  • financial, such as misusing a person’s money
  • neglect, such as withholding medication or not providing regular food
  • exploitation, such as taking advantage of someone.

Whilst carrying out our own investigation about a matter concerning an adult with impaired capacity, the Public Guardian will refer allegations of a criminal nature to the Queensland Police Service.

The Public Guardian does not replace the important role that the police fulfil in relation to domestic violence or criminal behaviour. Our role is to investigate alleged abuse from the perspective of whether the current decision making arrangements provide an adult with impaired capacity with the appropriate assistance or protection from the alleged abuse, as opposed to being punitive against the alleged perpetrator.

Some of the complaints we receive are about concerns that someone who is appointed as attorney, for example under an Enduring Power of Attorney, for a person with impaired capacity is not acting in their interests.

Reporting abuse

A person being harmed may not be able to report it, or be in a position to report it. If you think someone is being abused, report it immediately.

If you think someone is in imminent danger of harm, ring the police straight away on triple zero (000).

You can also contact us with any concerns you have. Call us on 1300 653 187 or send us an email. You should also raise your concerns with any agencies involved with the adult’s care so that they can also take appropriate action.

There may be some complaints which we can not investigate, for example, if the person does not have impaired capacity or if there is another more appropriate body to investigate the allegation. In many cases, we make referrals to other agencies.

A complaint to us might reveal that an adult with impaired capacity doesn’t have adequate decision-making support in place. In these cases, one option might be for the adult to have a formal guardian appointed to make their personal decisions, or for an administrator to make financial decisions.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) would determine this matter – not the Public Guardian. For this to happen, an application has to be made to QCAT to determine the most appropriate person to make decisions for the adult.

This could be someone from the adult’s supportive network, such as a family member or a friend, or it could be the Public Guardian (as last resort) if there is no one else suitable.

Whistleblower protection

Protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 may be extended to someone who refers a case for investigation.

Investigative powers of the Public Guardian

We have been given special powers under the Public Guardian Act 2014 to protect adults with impaired capacity and investigate claims of abuse. These include:

  • requiring people to produce records and accounts
  • gaining access to any relevant information, such as medical files
  • issuing a summons ordering a person who has been uncooperative to provide information
  • applying for an entry and removal warrant if a person is at immediate risk of harm
  • being able to suspend an attorney’s power.

Our investigation will gather evidence to find out whether the allegations can be substantiated on the balance of probabilities. The purpose of an investigation is to identify the level of risk for the vulnerable person and the action needed to best protect them.

Where possible, we try to resolve allegations informally. If necessary, we refer evidence to the police for their investigation or other matters to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT).