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The Public Guardian. Legal advocacy Kevin Martin Adult Guardian Public Guardian Designate.

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Presentation on theme: "The Public Guardian. Legal advocacy Kevin Martin Adult Guardian Public Guardian Designate."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Public Guardian

2 Legal advocacy Kevin Martin Adult Guardian Public Guardian Designate

3 Welcome The Office of the Public Guardian and the hubs Focusing on child advocacy and where child legal advocacy fits in Legal advocacy under the Public Guardian Act – scope, functions and powers How will legal advocacy work on 1 July – work in progress Designing the legal advocacy model for the future: your thoughts Next steps Session details Legal advocacy

4 The OPG Vision: Protecting the rights of vulnerable Queenslanders whatever their age or situation Office of The Public Guardian

5 Organisational framework Public Guardian Adult Child Corporate Office of the Public Guardian The Public Guardian’s has a dual role: protecting the rights of both vulnerable adults and children and young people Child community visitors Child advocacy Adult community visiting program Guardianship/statutory health attorney Investigating abuse and neglect Protecting client’s legal rights Appraise use of restrictive practices

6 Organisational framework Child visitor and advocacy programs Public Guardian Child visitor program Community Visitors Child advocacy program Statewide Virtual Hub Brisbane Hub Ipswich Hub Cairns Hub Planned for late 2014 Townsville Hub Virtual Hub Managers Gold Coast Toowoomba & Western Moreton & South Burnett Central North Central South Logan Sunshine Coast Cairns Central Office Staff Hubs Office of the Public Guardian

7 Referrals Brisbane Ipswich Where appropriate, matters will be directed back though local physical hubs. In appropriate cases external advocacy services and organisations will be utilised. Statewide Virtual Hub Children and young people in the child protection system, wherever they are, can seek help and support via social media and electronic communication. The hubs: triage and referral Matters referred to regional advocates or child visitors Children and young people can contact their local physical hub directly by phone or visiting. Regional Virtual Hubs

8 State wide virtual hub, physical hubs and virtual hubs are very much a work in progress. After 9-12 months experience an independent arms length review will be undertaken by external consultants to assess the success or otherwise of both the physical and virtual hubs Review of Hubs The hubs

9 Hub managers are the key to the delivery of child advocacy services in each zone Hub managers are to act professionally and will be accountable for the decisions they make provide timely responses to all requests for assistance adopt a “no wrong door” approach–provide referrals for children and young people not within jurisdiction where necessary liaise with the legal team in OPG in relation to potential legal advocacy matters Hub managers The hubs

10 promoting and protecting the rights and interests of children and young people ensuring their voices are heard assisting children and young people to understand the child protection system and resolve issues ensuring children and young people are involved in making decisions that affect their care working with service providers to promote and protect the interests of children. Goal of Child Advocacy: Child Advocacy

11 Child advocacy (non legal) help making complaints help resolving issues in care support in meetings case planning mediation. Child advocacy (legal) representation in courts and tribunals appearing in QCAT review process providing help and support in court conferencing and family group meetings utilising the legal powers of the Public Guardian Act Child advocacy: non legal and legal Child Advocacy The Public Guardian will provide individual advocacy for children and young people–primarily in the child protection system–offering advice, information and help. This includes:

12 Children in scope for child advocacy services Section 13 of the Act: child advocacy functions Only for relevant children. Section 52 of the Act defines ‘relevant children’. Those children under child protection orders (including urgent and temporary orders), interventions and voluntary agreements under the Child Protection Act. Child Advocacy

13 OPG can also assist: children who were receiving help before a child protection order, agreement or intervention stopped–section 52(3)(a) if a child needs help in reviewing a decision to end the order, agreement or intervention–section 52(3)(b) A child, young person or 18 year old to transition out of the child protection system–section 52(4) only if the OPG thinks it can help. Child Advocacy Children in scope for child advocacy

14 Child advocates Child advocacy officers appointed under s 110 of the Public Guardian Act – an employee of Public Guardian with skills and ability to do the job Can perform any child advocate functions under section 13 delegated to them by the Public Guardian From 1 July, Child advocacy officers will be Hub Managers, Lawyer/Advocates (currently being recruited) who will work in hubs Any other employee of the Public Guardian with skills and ability to do the job Child advocacy from 1 July

15 From 1 July, main trigger for legal advocacy: –Systems gap or systems failure If agencies are working effectively and properly representing the views of a child, then no necessity for any separate action by the Public Guardian Business as usual for existing legal providers Legal advocacy only to be performed by Lawyer/Advocates or other officers from the general OPG Legal team Supervision of Lawyer/Advocates by hub manager, legal team and Public Guardian Legal advocacy Legal Advocacy

16 Varied roles to support child in legal proceedings–see section 13 of the Act Support a child in a legal proceeding, including at the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) Support a child at and participate in family group meetings, conferences and mediation Statutory right to intervene in any legal proceedings in the Childrens Court or the QCAT in relation to a child protection matter What is legal advocacy under the Public Guardian Act? Legal Advocacy

17 Role of the Public Guardian in QCAT–section 128 Support child at, and participate in, conferences or mediations ordered or facilitated by QCAT Present the child’s views and wishes at the conference or mediation right to appear before QCAT and present the child’s views and wishes to the tribunal; and to make submissions, call witnesses and test evidence, including by cross-examining witnesses Legal advocacy Legal Advocacy

18 A right of appearance in child protection proceedings in the Childrens Court Communicate the child’s wishes, appear, make submissions and lead and test evidence in the proceedings to advocate or support a child This is in addition to the existing right of a child to a direct legal representative or a separate representative to act in the child’s best interests Legal advocacy Role of Public Guardian in Childrens Court–new 108B-D CPA Legal Advocacy

19 Power of entry for child advocates Visitable sites: – enter normal hours without notice section 74 – enter outside normal hours with Public Guardian consent–section 74. Any other place the child is staying – Enter with consent of the person in charge – If a public place, enter when place is open – Enter on warrant – section 78 Powers of child advocacy officers

20 Public Guardian may use information for child advocacy functions–see sections 86(1) and (2) Prescribed entities–must comply with request for information from the Public Guardian–sections 84 and 85 Public Guardian may disclose information, including confidential information to prescribed entities to perform child advocacy functions Information exchange Powers of child advocacy officers

21 Chief Executives of: Education, Health, Child Safety and Disability Services Corrections and Youth Justice Queensland Police Service Director of Public Prosecutions, Legal Aid Queensland (only relating to child’s circumstances) Family and Child Commission Family Responsibilities Commission Recognised Entities Non government schools Visitable sites Hospitals and health boards Mater Health services Information exchange Prescribed entities are: Powers of child advocacy officers

22 Appropriate exceptions apply for disclosures, for e.g. no info if it would endanger a person’s wellbeing or prejudice criminal investigations–section 85(7). The use of the information exchanged under these provisions will be protected by the strict confidentiality provisions in the Act–sections 138 to 140. These provisions override any other law that would otherwise prohibit or restrict the giving of information (some limited exceptions in CPA). Information exchange Powers of child advocacy officers

23 Chief Executive (Child Safety) to advise the Public Guardian: When reviewable decision is made (change of placement, change in contact with family) When child is on CP orders and when orders end so Public Guardian has the information required to exercise its advocacy functions–section 87. Information may be requested by the Public Guardian for the purpose of assessing whether a child should be visited as part of the community visitor program–see Section 86(3). Information exchange Powers of child advocacy officers

24 Arrangements may also be made with Child Safety for the disclosure of confidential information (including electronic transfer) for the purposes of the Child Protection Act and vice-versa–section 89. The Courts and QCAT will also provide information directly related to the Public Guardian’s right to appear in legal proceedings. Information exchange Powers of child advocacy officers

25 Your thoughts How can existing legal service providers and OPG work together from 1 July What opportunities are there to partner with other legal service providers across the State ( the Public Guardian can appoint external contractors under section 104 for child advocacy services) What is the unmet need in advocacy and legal advocacy? Now? And in 3 years as other Carmody reforms roll out Designing the legal advocacy model


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