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Legislative changes to minimise the spread of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of social distancing measures has meant significant changes to the way people interact.The Office of the Public Advocate has received a number of calls seeking advice on how these measures may impact a protected person’s movements.Everyone’s circumstances will be different and there is no one size fits all approach that can be taken in the current environment.Legislative change has been needed to help ensure supported accommodation facilities and guardians can take the necessary steps to keep protected persons safe from COVID-19.
What are the changes?
The Government has introduced the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 to allow for aged care, mental health and disability service providers to apply for temporary approval to restrict the movement of a protected person.Applications should be made where there is concern that a protected person does not have the capacity to adhere to public health measures (such as social distancing) that are designed to minimise the risk of transmitting COVID-19.These measures will help keep both the community and the protected person safe from the potential spread of COVID-19.Applications can be made to the guardian or, where there is no guardian, to the newly-created Authorising Officer. Leading disability advocate Professor Richard Bruggemann has been appointed to this position, and will endeavour to implement measures that do not unduly restrict a protected person’s movements, but still ensure appropriate public health measures are adhered to.
What do the orders do?
A supported accommodation facility can apply to the Authorising Officer or the person’s Guardian for authorisation to detain a protected person that can last up to 28 days.Authorisation will allow persons to take such steps as may be reasonably necessary to detain a protected person.The goal will be to implement the least restrictive approach that balances the protected person’s freedom with both the person and the broader community’s right to be protected from the possible spread of COVID-19.
Factors that will be considered
When authorisation is sought, the Public Advocate or the Authorising Officer will consider all relevant background information.This would include:
- A protected person’s history
- How their capacity may impact on their interactions with others in public
- The health risk this might pose to the protected person or other people
- Any other mitigation measures providers have introduced to try and address any concerns.
Extensions to orders
Where an order extending beyond the initial 28 days is sought, an application must be made to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).
We appreciate there is a delicate balance between restricting an individual’s movements and allowing activities that may pose a risk to both the individual and the broader community. We will work to reach solutions that involve the least restrictive approach, while ensuring all appropriate public health measures are met. More information is available at https://covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/at-risk-facility-residents
The Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) is carefully monitoring the official public health advice regarding COVID-19 and is taking steps to ensure the wellbeing of clients and staff.
The OPA is planning a phased approach to implementing alternative operating arrangements to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its clients and staff. As a result, interim measures are being introduced to prevent and minimise the spread of COVID-19.
- From Wednesday 18 March 2020 we will be trialling delivery of our services via telephone and email.
- All in person visits and non-essential meetings are suspended until further notice. The OPA is investigating alternative methods for providing those services.
The contact details for my office remain the same, however your call may initially be diverted to a voice mail. Telephone calls and emails will be monitored throughout the day and will be actioned as soon as possible. Urgent matters will be given priority.
You will understand that this is a rapidly developing situation and measures to protect public health are changing from day to day.
We will aim to keep all parties informed of any service changes via notices on our public website.
The OPA is taking these measures to support the public effort to prioritise the health, safety and welfare of the community of South Australia.
If you have any concerns please do not hesitate to contact through our website address above or telephone 8342 3200 or country callers 1800 066 969 (Country SA).
The annual report for 2018-2019 has been tabled. To view the report please click here.
Office of the Public Advocate has released three videos about the role of the office, guardianship and advcance care directives. Check out the three videos here:
The State Government has announced its intention to merge the Office of the Public Advocate and the Public Trustee, under reforms aimed at improving services to vulnerable South Australians. The Public Trustee (publictrustee.sa.gov.au) acts as a financial administrator for those South Australians who cannot manage their own affairs, preparing Wills and managing Enduring Powers of Attorney for eligible customers and acting as executor for deceased estates. These reforms will require legislative change and, in the short term at least, it will continue to be business as usual. More information on the proposed reforms can be found here. Click Here
The annual report for 2017-2018 has been tabled. To view the report please click here.
What happens if there comes a time when you are not able to make your own decisions about your health, accommodation, personal decisions and finances?
How can you be sure that your decisions will be made to reflect your wishes, views and values and by the people that you choose?
The session will answer frequently asked questions such as;
When can a person make these documents? What kind of decision does each document cover? When do the documents come into effect? What are informal arrangements for people who aren’t able to make their own decisions?
The session will be held at the Office of the Public Advocate
ABC Building, 85 North East Road, Collinswood
Friday 14th September 10:00am – 12:00pm
Places are limited so please contact Michelle Howse or Renee Sumner-Makris on 83428200 or email@example.com as soon as possible to reserve your place.
Information Kits and Tea and Coffee will be provided
Launch of Private Guardians Manual and New Fact Sheets
The Hon Katrine Hildyard, Minister for Disabilities, launched the new Private Guardians Manual in plain language style on Thursday 23 November 2017. The manual is also available in ‘easy read’ format. The Minister also launched three ‘easy read’ Fact Sheets – ‘Guardianship and the Public Advocate’, ‘Informal Arrangements’ and ‘Consent to Medical and Dental Treatment’.
South Australians with complex communication needs who need to be interviewed by police or attend court can now access the Communication Partner Service. Watch Public Advocate and Chair of the Disability Justice Plan Advisory Group Anne Gale, Chief Executive of Uniting Communities Simon Schrapel and Chief Executive Officer of JFA Purple Orange Robbi Williams discuss the service which operates between 7am and 10pm, seven days a week.
In 2016 the Australian Guardianship and Administration Council finalised the rewriting of the National Guardianship Standards in easy english.