What is the Office of the Public Guardian?

How the OPG can assist with the wellbeing of some of our most vulnerable community members.

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is becoming more and more involved in discussions around the wellbeing of some of our most vulnerable community members.

RACQ’s Financial Wellbeing team interviewed OPG Investigations team Manager Samantha Shipman to understand what the agency can do to assist Queenslanders. 

What does the OPG do?

We are 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, or who are residing at other sites. We’re here to advocate for, promote and protect the human rights of our clients. 

For adults with impaired decision-making, we can advocate and mediate on their behalf, and also support them to make personal, health and legal decisions as an appointed guardian or attorney.  We also have the power to investigate abuse, exploitation and neglect against adults with impaired decision making capacity, and take action to prevent further harm to the adult.

What triggers OPG to commence an investigation?

Anyone can refer an allegation of abuse, neglect or exploitation to us. When we have established that the concerns raised meet our referral criteria we can use the special powers granted to us under the Public Guardian Act 2014 to investigate the claims of abuse, neglect or exploitation towards them. Our investigations seek to identify the level of risk for the vulnerable person and the action needed to best protect them. 

What should I do if I believe I, or someone I know, is being taken advantage of?

A good first step is to reach out to the Elder Abuse Prevention Unit via the Elder Abuse Helpline on 1300 651 192. From here, you will be supported to know what steps you can take to ensure you or the person in question is best protected from potential abuse. 

If you, or the person in question, has impaired decision making capacity and the behaviour in question is abuse (including financial abuse), exploitation or neglect you can also contact the OPG directly to see if we can investigate. 

Whatever the circumstances there are many community groups and organisations set up to help you and your loved ones in tough situations like this, please reach out for help.