3 Session details Legal advocacy Welcome The Office of the Public Guardian and the hubsFocusing on child advocacy and where child legal advocacy fits inLegal advocacy under the Public Guardian Act – scope, functions and powersHow will legal advocacy work on 1 July – work in progressDesigning the legal advocacy model for the future: your thoughtsNext steps
4 Office of The Public Guardian The OPG Vision:Protecting the rights of vulnerable Queenslanders whatever their age or situation
5 Office of the Public Guardian Organisational frameworkThe Public Guardian’s has a dual role: protecting the rights of both vulnerable adults and children and young peoplePublic Guardian••••AdultCorporateChildAdult community visiting programGuardianship/statutory health attorneyInvestigating abuse and neglectProtecting client’s legal rightsAppraise use of restrictive practicesChild community visitorsChild advocacy
6 Office of the Public Guardian Organisational frameworkChild visitor andadvocacy programsPublic Guardian•••Child visitor programChild advocacy program••••StatewideVirtual HubHubsCommunity Visitors•••Brisbane HubIpswich HubVirtual Hub ManagersGold CoastToowoomba & WesternMoreton & South BurnettCentral NorthCentral SouthLoganSunshine CoastCairnsCentral Office Staff••Cairns HubPlanned forlate 2014Townsville Hub
7 The hubs: triage and referral ReferralsTownsvilleIpswichMatters referred to regional advocatesor child visitorsWhere appropriate, matters will be directed back though local physical hubs.In appropriate cases external advocacy services and organisations will be utilised.•••••StatewideVirtual Hub•••Brisbane•RegionalVirtual Hubs•.@Children and young people in the child protection system, wherever they are, can seek help and support via social media and electronic communication.Children and young people can contact their local physical hub directly by phone or visiting.
8 The hubsReview of HubsState 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
9 The hubsHub managersHub managers are the key to the delivery of child advocacy services in each zoneHub managers are to act professionally and will be accountable for the decisions they makeprovide timely responses to all requestsfor assistanceadopt a “no wrong door” approach–provide referralsfor children and young people not within jurisdictionwhere necessary liaise with the legal team in OPGin relation to potential legal advocacy matters
10 Child Advocacy Goal of Child Advocacy: promoting and protecting the rights and interests of children and young peopleensuring their voices are heardassisting children and young people to understand the child protection system and resolve issuesensuring children and young people are involved in making decisions that affect their careworking with service providers to promote and protect the interests of children.
11 Child Advocacy Child advocacy: non legal and legal 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:Child advocacy (non legal)help making complaintshelp resolving issues in caresupport in meetingscase planningmediation.Child advocacy (legal)representation in courts and tribunalsappearing in QCAT review processproviding help and support in courtconferencing and family groupmeetingsutilising the legal powers of thePublic Guardian Act 2014.
12 Children in scope for child advocacy services Section 13 of the Act: child advocacy functionsOnly 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.
13 Children in scope for child advocacy 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.
14 Child advocates Child advocacy from 1 July Child advocacy officers appointed under s 110 of the Public Guardian Act – an employee of Public Guardian with skills and ability to do the jobCan perform any child advocate functions under section 13 delegated to them by the Public GuardianFrom 1 July, Child advocacy officers will be Hub Managers, Lawyer/Advocates (currently being recruited) who will work in hubsAny other employee of the Public Guardian with skills and ability to do the job
15 Legal advocacy Legal Advocacy From 1 July, main trigger for legal advocacy:Systems gap or systems failureIf agencies are working effectively and properly representing the views of a child, then no necessity for any separate action by the Public GuardianBusiness as usual for existing legal providersLegal advocacy only to be performed by Lawyer/Advocates or other officers from the general OPG Legal teamSupervision of Lawyer/Advocates by hub manager, legal team and Public Guardian
16 What is legal advocacy under the Public Guardian Act? Varied roles to support child in legal proceedings–see section 13 of the ActSupport 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 mediationStatutory right to intervene in any legal proceedings in the Childrens Court or the QCAT in relation to a child protection matter
17 Legal advocacy Legal Advocacy Role of the Public Guardian in QCAT–section 128Support child at, and participate in, conferences or mediations ordered or facilitated by QCATPresent the child’s views and wishes at the conference or mediationright 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
18 Legal AdvocacyLegal advocacy Role of Public Guardian in Childrens Court–new 108B-D CPAA right of appearance in child protection proceedings in the Childrens CourtCommunicate the child’s wishes, appear, make submissions and lead and test evidence in the proceedings to advocate or support a childThis 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
19 Power of entry for child advocates Powers of child advocacy officersPower of entry for child advocatesVisitable sites:enter normal hours without notice section 74enter outside normal hours with Public Guardian consent–section 74.Any other place the child is stayingEnter with consent of the person in chargeIf a public place, enter when place is openEnter on warrant – section 78
20 Information exchange Powers of child advocacy officers 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 85Public Guardian may disclose information, including confidential information to prescribed entities to perform child advocacy functions
21 Information exchange Prescribed entities are: Powers of child advocacy officersInformation exchange Prescribed entities are:Chief Executives of:Education, Health, Child Safety and Disability ServicesCorrections and Youth JusticeQueensland Police ServiceDirector of Public Prosecutions, Legal Aid Queensland (only relating to child’s circumstances)Family and Child CommissionFamily Responsibilities CommissionRecognised EntitiesNon government schoolsVisitable sitesHospitals and health boardsMater Health services
22 Information exchange Powers of child advocacy officers 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).
23 Information exchange Powers of child advocacy officers 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).
24 Information exchange Powers of child advocacy officers 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.
25 Your thoughts Designing the legal advocacy model How can existing legal service providers and OPG work together from 1 JulyWhat 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
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