Office of the Public Guardian gives a voice to more Queenslanders than ever before
2017-18 saw the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) yet again increase its performance across all areas of human rights advocacy – with the number of vulnerable Queensland adults and children we gave a voice to increasing for the second year in a row.
This year saw us visit over 8,600 children and young people in the child protection system, and those residing in residential care facilities, youth detention centres and adult correctional facilities, a 19 percent increase over a two year period.
More importantly, we advocated over 20,000 issues for these children and young people and resolved more of them than ever before in our history – 97 percent to be precise. This is a 69 percent increase in advocacy since 2015-16.
This increase in the number of issues we have advocated is key, as it demonstrates the extent to which OPG is fulfilling its commitment to making sure children and young people are heard in systems in which they have historically been silent.
Queensland Public Guardian, Natalie Siegel-Brown, said “Through a stronger focus on advocacy, OPG is able to better understand the views and wishes of these children and young people, and, more importantly, make sure these views are expressed and heard.
“It goes beyond this though, to making sure that these children and young people feel empowered in their own lives by being allowed to participate in decisions made about them, and that is something our office will continue to fight for,” she said.
This unprecedented uplift in service delivery extends across all areas of OPG, with the Office visiting more adults residing in disability services, mental health units and hostels than in the previous year, and acting as a guardian for an even greater number of adults with impaired decision making capacity.
Despite this sharp increase for demand across all areas of frontline services, OPG has been able to fulfil its commitment to ensuring adults continue to contribute meaningfully to their own lives, with 97 percent of all guardianship decisions made in consultation with the adult.
“Too often adults with disability are treated as passive observers of their own lives,” said Ms Siegel-Brown.
“OPG guardians and Community Visitors know that these individuals can contribute to society in ways that are constantly underestimated. Our job is to make sure that their voice is heard and that the systems that care for them recognise the principles of self-determination and the entitlement to an independent, fulfilling life.
It is likely that demand for OPG’s services will grow across the board in coming years. More and more children are entering the child protection system, and an increasing number of adults are coming under our guardianship. The continued rollout of the NDIS will also place greater demands on our resources as we will need to re-double our current efforts to ensure that our eligible guardianship clients not only have access to the scheme, but that they get the funding and supports they need to realise their potential.
This means going forward we will continue to look for innovative and cost effective ways to expand our services and keep up with demand, because we will never lose sight of our core purpose to advocate for the human rights of Queenslanders experiencing vulnerability.
Office of the Public Guardian media contact: (07) 3006 2589 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to the Editor
* Queensland’s Public Guardian advocates for the human rights of vulnerable Queenslanders.
* OPG’s Community Visitors (CVs) visit children in foster care, kinship care or residential care to ensure their rights and interests are being protected.
* OPG’s child advocacy function provides children and young people with an independent voice, ensuring their views and wishes are taken into consideration when decisions are made that affect them.
* CVs also visit adults with impairments and impaired capacity in certain types of sites to independently monitor these sites and, where necessary, make complaints for on behalf of these adults.
* The Public Guardian can be appointed guardian of last resort for adults with impaired decision making capacity, and make personal, health and/or legal decisions as part of a supported decision making model
* The Public Guardian investigates allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation against adults with impaired decision making capacity.