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Victorian Auditor-General releases report on guardianship and decision-making for vulnerable adults

A close up of two hands held together


The Victorian Auditor-General recently reported on the effectiveness of the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) and the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) in providing guardianship and investigation services that promote and protect the rights and interests of vulnerable adults. 

In Victoria, the OPA acts as a guardian of “last resort” for people, even those with support, who are not able to make decisions for themselves and there is no other suitable person to do it. In such instances a guardian may be legally appointed to make decisions for the person. 

In its report, the Auditor-General found that, although the OPA provides crucial guardianship and investigation services for thousands of vulnerable adults each year in complex and challenging circumstances, it could do more to protect and promote their interests. The OPA could improve: 

  • how long it takes to appoint guardians 
  • when and how well it engages with its clients  
  • its record keeping 
  • its understanding of the resources it needs to deliver its guardianship and investigation services  
  • how it monitors performance to make sure staff protect and promote people's rights and interests in all cases. 

The report recommends the OPA improves: 

  • its documentation 
  • how it engages with clients 
  • its training and guidance for staff 
  • how it collects and uses data 
  • its planning and oversight.  

It also recommends that the DJCS and OPA improve their planning and recruitment and their performance measures. 

In response to the report, the OPA reaffirmed its commitment to improving its guardianship and investigation services to better protect and promote the rights and interests of people with disability. It also said that the VAGO recommendations will complement and support the OPA’s quality improvement work. The high-level action plan included in the report will help the OPA identify how they will implement these recommendations. 

NDS would welcome improvements to guardianship, especially given the valuable role the OPA plays in supported decision making for people with disability and in the community visitors program.  

Contact information
Paul Bourke, Policy & Project Officer, 03 8341 4317, submit enquiry/feedback