What we do - Office of the Public Guardian

What we do

The purpose of OPG is to advocate for the human rights of our clients.

  • For our adult clients, this means advocating for their rights, access to services, independence and choice as part of a supported decision-making model.
  • For our children and young people clients, this means advocating for their rights, access to services and where appropriate, their independence and choice.
  • Advocacy means understanding the lives and views of our clients with the aim of promoting and protecting their human rights. Advocacy can mean working to prevent or address discrimination, abuse or neglect. Advocacy does not mean taking over a client's life or problems. Advocacy does not mean taking over the roles and responsibilities of other government agencies or service providers.

Who we are

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is an independent statutory office established to protect the rights, interests and wellbeing of adults with impaired decision-making capacity, and children and young people in the child protection system. This includes those in out-of-home care, such as a foster home, the home of a kinship carer, a residential care facility, a youth detention or adult correctional centre, disability service or mental health facility.

The OPG provides an important protective role in Queensland by administering a community visitor program, which provides statewide visiting services to:

  • adults residing in government funded facilities and some private hostels
  • children and young people in the child protection system or staying at a visitable site. Visitable sites include residential care facilities, youth detention or adult correctional centres, disability services or mental health facilities.

How we help protect children and young people in the child protection system

The function of the Public Guardian is to provide oversight functions and powers for children and young people in the child protection system. Every child or young person in the child protection system or at a visitable site is entitled to a Community Visitor or Child Advocate - Legal Officer. All children on child protection orders (whether in the care of their parents or not), are entitled to our advocacy.

The Public Guardian also provides oversight of children and young people in youth detention centres through the Community Visitor program, regardless of whether they are on child protection orders or not.

Community visiting program

Queensland’s Community Visitor program is designed to protect the rights and interests of children and young people in the child protection system across Queensland. This means visiting children or young people in a foster home, the home of a kinship carer, a residential care facility, a youth detention or adult correctional centre, disability service or mental health facility. Regardless of whether a child or young person is in the child protection system, our community visitors will attend all children and young people in a youth detention centre or mental health facility, to ensure their rights and interests are being protected.

Queensland’s visiting program is one of the most comprehensive in Australia; approximately 122 community visitors (CVs) work across 13 zones covering a geographic area of 1.7 million kilometres.

Child advocacy program

The OPG has special responsibilities to support and protect the rights of children and young people in the child protection system through its child advocacy program.

The child advocacy program provides children and young people within the child protection system an independent voice, ensuring their views are taken into consideration when decisions are made that affect them, which is a key element of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

How we help protect adults with impaired decision-making capacity

For adults with impaired decision-making capacity the OPG:

  • makes personal and health decisions if the Public Guardian is their guardian or attorney
  • investigates allegations of abuse, neglect or exploitation
  • advocates and mediates on behalf of adults with impaired decision-making capacity
  • educates the public on the guardianship and attorney systems.

When appointed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) as guardian, the Public Guardian routinely makes complex and delicate decisions on health care and accommodation, and guides adults through legal proceedings in the criminal, child protection and family law jurisdictions.

The Public Guardian Act 2014 and Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 set out the OPG’s legislative functions, obligations and powers. The Powers of Attorney Act 1998 regulates the authority for adults to appoint substitute decision-makers under an Advanced Health Directive or an Enduring Power of Attorney.

The Office of the Public Guardian does not manage a person’s money. Financial administration for people with impaired decision-making capacity is handled by The Public Trustee of Queensland.