Click to add title - Child Protection Practitioners Association of

The Public Guardian
Legal advocacy
Kevin Martin
Adult Guardian
Public Guardian Designate
Legal advocacy
Session details
• 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
Designing the legal advocacy model for the future:
your thoughts
Next steps
Office of The Public Guardian
The OPG Vision:
Protecting the rights of vulnerable
Queenslanders whatever their age or
Office of the Public Guardian
Organisational framework
The Public Guardian’s has a dual role: protecting the rights
of both vulnerable adults and children and young people
Public Guardian
• Adult community visiting program
• Guardianship/statutory health attorney
• Investigating abuse and neglect
• Protecting client’s legal rights
• Appraise use of restrictive practices
• Child community visitors
• Child advocacy
Office of the Public Guardian
Organisational framework
Child visitor and
advocacy programs
Public Guardian
Child visitor program
Child advocacy program
Virtual Hub
Community Visitors
Brisbane Hub
Central Office Staff
Cairns Hub
Planned for
late 2014
Ipswich Hub
Townsville Hub
Virtual Hub Managers
Gold Coast
Toowoomba & Western
Moreton & South Burnett
Central North
Central South
Sunshine Coast
The hubs: triage and referral
Where appropriate,
matters will be directed
back though local physical
Matters referred to
regional advocates
or child visitors
• •
Virtual Hub
In appropriate cases
external advocacy
services and
organisations will be
• Regional
Virtual 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.
The hubs
Review of Hubs
• 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
The hubs
Hub managers
•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
Child Advocacy
Goal of Child Advocacy:
• 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.
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)
Child advocacy (legal)
• help making complaints
• help resolving issues in care
• support in meetings
• case planning
• mediation.
• representation in courts and tribunals
• appearing in QCAT review process
• providing help and support in court
conferencing and family group
• utilising the legal powers of the
Public Guardian Act 2014.
Child Advocacy
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
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
• 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 from 1 July
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
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
Legal Advocacy
Legal advocacy
• 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
What is legal advocacy under the Public
Guardian Act?
• 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
Legal Advocacy
Legal advocacy
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
Role of Public Guardian in Childrens Court–new 108B-D CPA
• 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
Powers of child advocacy officers
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
Information exchange
• 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
Powers of child advocacy officers
Information exchange
Prescribed entities are:
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
Powers of child advocacy officers
Information exchange
• 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).
Powers of child advocacy officers
Information exchange
• Chief Executive (Child Safety) to advise the Public
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).
Powers of child advocacy officers
Information exchange
• 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.
Designing the legal advocacy model
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
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