When can I report abuse to OPG?

We’re only able to investigate allegations of neglect, exploitation or abuse if:

  • the vulnerable adult is ‘domiciled’ in Queensland (this means they either live in Queensland or maintain a permanent address in Queensland), and
  • they DO NOT have the capacity to make their own decisions.

We’ve put together some information to help you identify whether an adult may have impaired decision-making capacity. However, it’s important to understand that just because you don’t like a decision an adult is making, or think it unwise, it doesn’t necessarily mean the adult doesn’t have capacity to make that decision.

Often the complaints we receive are about someone appointed as an attorney (via an Enduring Power of Attorney document) who’s not acting in the interests of the person they are supposed to be supporting. However we’re also able to investigate abuse allegations where there is an informal care arrangement (such as when a friend or family member sometimes helps an adult with day to day tasks) or no care arrangement at all.

When we can’t investigate

Under legislation, we can’t investigate suspicions of abuse when an adult has decision-making capacity nor are we able to investigate organisations that provide paid services, such as residential care facilities or home help providers. However there are a number of organisations that may be able to offer support and advice in these scenarios.

Sometimes there is a more appropriate body to investigate your allegation. In many cases, we make referrals to other agencies, including the Queensland Police Service.

A simple way of working out who to approach about suspected abuse is to answer one of these two questions:

When the adult has an attorney acting for them under an Enduring Power of Attorney

  • Is the attorney using that power, or failing to act, in a way that is harming the adult?

When no one is formally helping an adult make decisions (such as under an Enduring Power of Attorney)

  • Would having a formal arrangement help the adult make decisions protect the adult from harm, either from themselves or others?

If the answer to either question is no, OPG is probably not the most-appropriate organisation to contact.

We would also generally not recommend an investigation if a Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) process is underway relating to decision-making arrangements for the adult. If the outcome of the hearing doesn’t resolve the issue, we can then determine if an investigation is appropriate.

Should I take any action before contacting OPG?

This depends on the circumstances but there may be some scenarios when talking to others may resolve the issue without formal action being needed. For example, if your concerns are about an attorney preventing family from visiting an adult in residential care, firstly raise your concerns with facility management because they may be able to mediate, especially if the attorney is acting outside their powers.

If you’re concerned about an attorney’s actions, you should also consider talking with them. It may be a tough conversation but they genuinely might not understand their obligations as an attorney and any abuse is unintentional. Our Responsibilities of an Attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney factsheet is a useful resource in this situation.