New Office of the Public Guardian protects children and adults

As of July 1 2014, the functions of the adult guardian and child guardian will be in the scope of a new statutory body, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

The OPG is a new independent statutory body responsible for protecting the rights of young people in the child protection system as well as vulnerable adults found to have impaired decision making capacity. 

Previously, the responsibility for protecting vulnerable adults and children came under two different independent bodies, the Office of the Adult Guardian (OAG) and the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian (CCYPCG).

The office was created due to an increasing concern by the public over the number of young people who were entering the child protection system. A report released in July 2013 – Taking responsibility: A roadmap for Queensland Child protection – stated that the best interests, safety and wellbeing of children in care were not being protected as well as they should by the existing system.

One of the report’s recommendations was that the role of child guardian be combined with adult guardian to form the OPG. Both the OAG and the CCYPCG stopped operating as of July 1 2014. 

What is a child guardian?

The child guardian was responsible for individual advocacy and protection of young people and children in out-of-home-care, residential care and youth detention. 

What is an adult guardian?

The adult guardian protected the rights and interests of adults with impaired decision making capacity. The body also had the responsibility of investigating exploitation, abuse or neglect claims. The adult guardian was responsible for making decisions for adults under its care. It  also mediated disputes related to finances, care arrangements and health decisions made on the adult’s behalf.  This is now the responsibility of the OPG. 

According to the Queensland Law Reform Commission, impaired decision making capacity is when an individual no longer understands their decisions or their consequent effects, cannot freely make decisions for themselves and cannot somehow communicate their decision.

Appointing an enduring power of attorney, means that if your decision making capacity is impaired the person or persons you have chosen will be responsible for decision making on your behalf.