Guardianship and Administration

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The Public Advocate

Section 14 of the Guardianship Act creates the role of the Public Advocate.  In accordance with section 15 of the Guardianship Act, the functions of the Public Advocate include:

  • to promote, facilitate and encourage the provision, development and coordination of services and facilities provided by government, community and voluntary organisations for people with a disability with a view to:

- promoting the development of the ability and capacity of people with a disability to act independently;

- minimising the restrictions on the rights of people with a disability;

- ensuring the maximum utilisation by people with a disability of those services and facilities;

-encouraging the involvement of voluntary organisations and relatives, guardians and friends in the provision and management of those services and facilities;

  • to support the establishment of organisations involved with people with a disability, relatives, guardians and friends for the purpose of:

- instituting citizen advocacy programs and other advocacy programs; and

- undertaking community education projects; and

- promoting family and community responsibility for guardianship; and

  • to arrange, coordinate and promote informed public awareness and understanding by the dissemination of information with respect to-

- the provisions of the Guardianship Act and any other legislation dealing with or affecting people with a disability;

-the role of VCAT and the Public Advocate;

- the duties, powers and functions of guardians and administrators under the Guardianship Act; and

- the protection of people with a disability from abuse and exploitation and the protection of their rights.

The powers given to the Public Advocate under the Guardianship Act include the power to:

  • be appointed as a guardian by VCAT (s 16(1)(a)(i));
  • make an application to VCAT for the appointment of a guardian or administrator or the rehearing or reassessment of a guardianship order or an administration order (s 16(1)(b));
  • submit a report to VCAT on any matter referred to the Public Advocate for a report by VCAT (s 16(1))(d)); and
  • investigate, if appointed by VCAT, any complaint or allegation that a person is under inappropriate guardianship or is being exploited or abused or in need of guardianship (s 16(1)(h)).

The Office of the Public Advocate is also a statutory body accountable to the Victorian Parliament and has the power to investigate, report and make recommendations to the Minister on any aspect of the operation of the Guardianship Act referred to the Public Advocate by the Minister (s 15(d)). 

As a statutory authority, the Office of the Public Advocate is a public authority under the Charter.  Accordingly, the Office of the Public Advocate is required to act compatibly with human rights when making decisions and when acting under the Guardianship Act.