Page 4211 - Week 13 - Thursday, 19 November 2015

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Both guardians and managers work to promote the wishes and interests of their client, including personal protection, community involvement, and their financial interests. Financial imperatives will not trump other considerations in a Public Trustee and Guardian office, which will have the same functions as those performed by the Guardianship Unit currently.

There have also been concerns raised that fees could be charged for the administration of guardianship orders. It is the case that there is a power for the government to set fees for the provision of guardianship services by disallowable instrument made under the Guardianship and Management of Property Act. However, historically fees have never been charged and the government has no plans to make a change to allow fees to be charged.

Safeguards will be maintained in the consolidated office. The Public Advocate performing advocacy functions in the Human Rights Commission has the ability to inspect the books and records of the Public Trustee and Guardian and other guardians and financial managers. And, as I have said earlier, the Disability and Community Services Commissioner will be able to handle complaints about the actions and decisions of the Public Trustee and Guardian, and the Public Advocate will be well placed to advocate for the interests and rights of people with impaired decision-making capacity who are under guardianship orders.

Although the approaches to dealing with the clients may differ, a new Office of the Public Trustee and Guardian headed by a statutory Public Trustee and Guardian will provide a more accessible service and bring a wider perspective and range of skills and experience to the protection of the best interests of clients. A consolidated Public Trustee and Guardian office will deliver a joined up service to clients and bring a wider range of experienced staff with expert personal guardianship and financial management skills together to act for Canberrans with impaired decision-making capacity.

This bill provides the flexibility for the agencies to develop their own practices and systems. Implementation of the new model established by the bill will take place over the coming months to meet the proposed 1 April 2016 commencement date for this legislation.

Subject to the processes that will need to be developed by the statutory office holders in conjunction with their staff, the government will continue to consult with staff about the implementation of the new structures. A workplace consultative committee for employees and statutory office agencies has been established and has held its first meeting with a representative from the Community and Public Sector Union present.

The government is mindful of the need to implement the changes promptly to minimise disruption to staff and any community uncertainty about access to services. The Justice and Community Safety Directorate has engaged a specialist change manager to manage the consultation with staff and the implementation process.

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