Picket – Expose the Qld. Office of the Adult Guardian. Stop neglect and cover-up.

See also ABC law report 15/8/06 “Guardianship and Administration Tribunal”  

Update – while the suppression order seems to have prevented media coverage of our picket, the Courier Mail has been following the issues with other cases and published the following on Sept 1……  “Unwilling ward of the state”

Join the campaign to reform  the Queensland Office of the Adult Guardian.

Please pass this link to friends and networks in Brisbane.

There will be a picket  Wednesday, the 29 August 2007 at 9.00 am. outside the Brisbane Magistrate’s Court, 240 Roma St. Brisbane to demand reform of the Queensland Office of the Adult Guardian.

(note – this building is not the office of the Adult Guardian.  We have chosen this venue because a client of the Adult Guardian is appearing before a magistrate there)

The picket will be opened by a traditional Aboriginal dance from Baganan Kurityityin Theresa Creed.

There will be an open forum during the picket chaired by Drew Hutton. All are welcome to speak.

             An invitation from Theresa Creed and John Tracey

Please join us to demand reform of Queensland’s guardianship laws.

We do not want to deceive anyone. This picket is about a particular problem that is occurring in our family. We would love to tell you the details but have been threatened with imprisonment if we do.

For seven years we have struggled with the Adult Guardian. We have gone up and down the right channels over and over again – without justice for a member of our family.

So we have called this picket to publically demand one thing, a demand that is relevant to thousands of other Queensland families – Reform the Office of the Adult Guardian!.

We demand that the Office of the Adult Guardian’s dual functions of investigator and legal Guardian for people with intellectual disabilities be split into two separates agencies. This would require the Office of the Adult Guardian, as a guardian, to be as accountable to scrutiny as any other legal guardian. At present the Office of the Adult Guardian investigates itself, or more accurately, does not investigate itself – including responding to complaints from their clients, client’s families or anyone else.

At present Queensland’s Guardianship and Administration Act allows for no accountability or scrutiny from anyone. Even the Attorney General, the elected parliamentarian and member of the state executive whose department the Adult Guardian is a part of , is legislatively unable to demand information and reports from the Adult Guardian or initiate any official investigation of any sort.

On top of this lack of accountability, Section 129  of the Guardianship and administration Act extinguishes any obligation at all to protect the rights of the adult or the integrity of the decisions made or to test information provided to the tribunal by the Adult Guardian.

Section 129 allows the Guardianship and Administration Tribunal (whose only investigative wing is the Office of the Adult Guardian) to conduct hearings and make orders that suspend all principles and protocols contained in its own act for up to six months.

Section 129 is a wild card allowing the tribunal to make decisions totally outside of legal frameworks. This section removes even the requirement for the person with a disability to be present or represented at a hearing, even if the Tribunal Orders to remove a person’s right to make decisions about where they live and who they associate with.   This situation has occurred, it is not a hypothetical fear.

Totalitarian laws and agencies such as Queensland’s guardianship regime should have no place in the lives of any Australian citizen.

These white laws have no place in Aboriginal family business

These laws, and the incompetence that flows from them are directly responsible for many people with intellectual disabilities being left to fall though the cracks in the system – often ending up in gaol.

In our family’s case as with other Aboriginal families, they are also a significant contributing factor to the over-representation of Aboriginal people in gaols.

**********************************************************

Please contact the Queensland Attorney General to support reform to Queensland Guardianship Laws         Attorney@ministerial.qld.gov.au

See also……

ABC law report 15/8/06 “Guardianship and Administration Tribunal”

Courier Mail 3/07/07 “Life support decision slammed”

For more information

Campaign to Reform the Adult Guardian (CRAG)
kurityityin(at)yahoo(dot)com
ph. Bris (07) 32552146

I will post updates on the situation in the comments section – stay tuned! – J.T.

(I have closed comments to anyone else)

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9 Comments

Filed under australia, disability, justice

9 responses to “Picket – Expose the Qld. Office of the Adult Guardian. Stop neglect and cover-up.

  1. John Tracey here.

    I make the following comment by myself and have consulted nobody before making it.

    I have considered the following carefully and I honestly believe it does not breach the restrictions placed on me about discussing this issue.

    If there is a problem, I accept full and sole responsibility.

    The matters before the magistrates court on Wednesday relate to a person with a mild intelectual disability.

    Four years ago this person owned a beachside unit and a 30 acre block of bushland on the Sunshine Coast. These were paid for by an insurance payout for orthopaedic injuries sustained in a car accident when he was 4 years old.

    These two properties were selected by the persons family to provide an appropriate and fulfilling lifestyle for him.

    Before he was able to move into these properties the Adult Guardian intervened and handed control of his assetts to the Public Trustee because they considered it an inappropriate use of money to buy a bush block as well as a primary residence. The money should be left in the bank they insisted.

    The Adult Guardian then placed this person in an accomodation option of their choice and restricted contact with his mother and her family.

    The car accident happened when this person was 4 years old. He had to wait until he was 18 before compensation could be awarded. As a child he lived in desparate poverty, as many Aboriginal people do, and was cared for by his single mother and grandmother. Because of his learning disability (not connected to the accident), his slow recuperation from terrible wounds and the stigma associated with his wounds his upbringing was difficult.

    Today he is 25 years old and still has never recieved any benefit at all from his accident compensation payment.

    A usual fee charged by the Public Trustee to administer the assetts of a person in a situation such as this is over one hundred dollars per week. They appear to be the only people who may be benefiting from this persons compensation payout.

    For most of the past year this person has been homeless. He has lived in parks for most of this time and now he is in a hostel close to Fortitude Valley . He still spends much time walking around the inner city, especially at night.

    The Adult Guardian have resisted moves by his family to get him out of the inner city, insisting his present hostel is the best possible accomodation option – despite him being (theoretically) wealthy enough to buy or build a mansion customised to his every need.

    When he was living in the Park they refused to allow him to go to his family on Palm Island, insisting that living in the park was a better option than Palm Island.

    This person has very dark skin and attracts the attention of the police when he walks around.

    He has been arrested many times in the last year for various street offences and continues to get in regular trouble with the police.

    He is in court on Wednesday and is facing imprisonment for these accumulated offences.

    Before the Adult Guardian’s intervention this person was a wealthy land owner with allmost infinite lifestyle options. Since the Adult Guardian’s intervention he has settled into a homeless lifestyle and is now facing gaol.

    I alledge that since, and as a direct result of, the Adult Guardian’s intervention the person’s mother has suffered a heart attack and two accute anxiety eposodes resulting in her becoming incapacitated . She is now on a disability pension.

    The person (son) has been assessed by the same clinical psychologist 4 years ago, 7 years ago and aprox 15 years ago as having depressive and psychiatric conditions as well as not being able to cope with separation from his mother.

    This same clinical psychologist reports have also explicitly reported that the person has never had a head injury after examination of all his medical reports since his accident.

    The Adult Guardian and the GAAT (informed by the Adult Guardian) insist that the person has no depressive or psychiatric condition.

    The GAAT (informed by the Adult Guardian) has deemed the person as lacking the capacity to make his own decisions on the basis of a brain injury as a result of his car accident.

    The Adult Guardian’s information directly contradicts assesments by 3 separate psychiatrists who clearly and explicitly state the person has the capacity to make decisions about his life.

    The Adult Guardian have no medical assessments to support their departure from the prior assessments.

    The decision whether to retain a solicitor for the person to represent his interests in these matters is made exclusively by the Adult Guardian, his guardian for legal matters. If such a solicitor was retained, they would be instructed exclusively by the Adult Guardian.

    The persons family are not legally able to seek legal advice on behalf of the person.

    The persons family are not legally able to initiate legal action for the person as the Adult Guardian has that exclusive power.

    All these issues have been presented to the GAAT which has either dismissed them without giving reasons why or refused to hear them alltogether.

    This is why we have taken the drastic step of a public picket. We can think of no other option but political action to pursue the interests of the person.

    This is why I have taken the risky step of putting this information here. There is no other forum or authority than “the people” for us to take our concerns to. We have exhausted all other avenues.

  2. Update from John Tracey

    It is about 3.pm Brisbane time on Friday the 17th Aug.

    Or in Public service terminology it is Fridee Arvo.

    The Adult Guardian who is responsible for all the person’s legal matters has still not retained a lawyer to represent the person next Wednesday, let alone begun compiling information relevant to a bail hearing.

    The person was arrested around about 10.00 p.m. on Monday night, the 13th August. Four working days ago.

    The manager of the persons “service deliverer”, An aquired brain injury service (There are no medical assesments saying the person has an aquired Brain injury and the most recent assesment says he has never suffered a head injury), who is responsible for supervising the person and assisting with their daily needs, did not find out that the person had been arrested and spent Monday night in the watch house – until yesterday, Thursday the 16th August.

    The “service deliverer” has clarified that it is not their job to assist in retaining a lawyer, stating “that is the Adult Guardian’s job”.

    The person’s family applied to the Guardianship and Administration Tribunal today, on Fridee arvo, to order that another person be made guardian for legal matters so that a solicitor can be retained.

    This application was refused on the basis of “that is the Adult Guardian’s job” and suggested the appropriate course of action for the person’s family was to ask the adult guardian to investigate the matter.

    The family has applied to the GAAT for a review of this decision but this will probably not be dealt with until after the Mondayitis subsides.

    I will post updates as they occur but I suspect it will be a quiet weekend.

    JT.

  3. note – the timeframes I refer to in the following are wrong – my apologies. The court case was in 9 days time, not 2 days time as I have written. – JT.

    Well, good to see someone’s working on Fridee Arvo.

    Dear XXXXXXXXXXX,

    I have passed on your email to the Registrar of the Tribunal. To request a review of the Tribunal’s decision you must comply with the provisions of Presidential Direction 2 of 2002, a copy of which is available on the Tribunal’s website.

    If either yourself, or another party, wishes to make an application for review of the Adult Guardian’s appointment prior to the expiration of the current order, you must show that:

    (i) new and relevant information has become available since the hearing;

    (ii) relevant information that should have been presented to the Tribunal was not presented; or

    (iii) a relevant change in circumstances has occurred since the hearing

    otherwise, the Tribunal may dismiss the application if it considers it to be lacking in substance. To make such an application you will need to complete and file an application outlining the above information.

    As this matter has only recently been reviewed, the Registrar has suggested that your most appropriate course of action is to contact the particular guardian or the Assistant Adult Guardian, XXXXXXXXXXXX to advise them of developments and to work with them in XXXXXXXXXXXX’s best interests. If you are still unhappy with their decisions, then you should in the first instance utilise that Offices internal complaint system. Details of which are available on the Office of the Adult Guardian website.

    I trust this information is of assistance

    ******************************

    Well thanks GAAT, it is of assistance because it is a clear example of the issues discussed in the article above.

    An application to GAAT to take emergency action – requested because of alleged neglect on the part on the Adult Guardian as a guardian – and GAAT refers the matter to the Adult Guardian as investigator!

    As they say, from the horses mouth!

    Given GAAT’s power under section 129 of the Act that allows it to do anything it wants any way it wants, the above protocol is a weird way to process an emergency order.

    GAAT allready have all the information they requested, they have been fully updated since the family found out about the persons arrest (2 days earlier that his “supervisors” found out) GAAT have been kept up to date on the so far futile attempts to get a solicitor and a bail application.

    I have known GAAT to have made decisions within hours of an application in the past. The above letter seems to be a blatant fobb-off.

    There are only 2 working days until the person goes to court. A bail application is not just booking a lawyer, the application has to include proffessional statements and assesments, character references, evidence of family support as well as considered legal argument.

    In previous court appearences the person, like all the other homeless people, has been left to the duty solicitor or Aboriginal Legal Service to represent them. These lawyers find out about the details of their clients case only minutes before the hearing and will have no capacity at all to present a proper bail application.

    J.T.

  4. What about Qld.’s whistleblower laws?

    I put a case of whistleblower rights to the GAAT when they applied my suppression order. I cannot tell you what the ruling was without transgressing the suppression order. However I will say that GAAT’s lack of proffessionalism in dealing with people is also reflected in their understanding and application of their own act’s whistleblower clause. I wish I could tell you the ruling on whistleblowing given to me by the president of GAAT – you would get a real giggle out of it.
    The president – who is the supreme authority of the Guardianship and Administration Act – had clearly never read the whole act before. She did not even know that the act had a whistle-blower clause until I pointed it out to her.

    The totalitarian structure described in the article above has only survived since its formation seven years ago because very few people know what happens within the guardianship regime and those who do know are not allowed to talk about it and no other agency is allowed to investigate it – a wall of secrecy surrounding Queenslands most vulnerable adults.

    This regime is perhaps the Qld. Government’s best kept secret.

    As far as I know I have not breached the order. I am trying to conform to the letter of the law but I am obviously defying that part of the spirit of the law which silences complaints and covers up neglegence.

    Given the track record of extreme nastiness by some elements of the guardianship regime I know there will be a backlash of some sort.

    I can tell you the suppression order was made within the guardianship regime and no other jurisdiction.

    I would welcome the opportunity to have this matter raised in a more transperent and accountable jurisdiction if I was to be charged.

    The publicity opportunities of such a charge would be the silver lining on this particular cloud if the weather does change. If it was me before the courts instead of the person then there are no restrictions on me talking to the media about my case.

    I allege that the Adult Guardian have destroyed the persons life, transforming him from a wealthy Sunshine Coast Land owner with all sorts of life options to a homeless and hopeless tramp hanging around inner city streets repeatedly going to gaol.

    This is a consideration for me about how serious this situation is. If the person is going to gaol as a consequence of the regime, then perhaps it is not disproportionate for a family member to risk gaol as a consequence of trying to expose this neglect and violation.

    JT

  5. In case you haven’t yet noticed my mistake or the correction at the top of the article, we have been a week ahead of ourselves. Aug 29 is still the correct date for the court case and picket.

    Sorry

    Our mistake is a blessing though. It gives us an extra week to get organised.

    Stay tuned!

  6. It’s early Tuesday Morning. Monday came and went with no response from the GAAT from a response to the above letter that went in Friday afternoon and still no response from the Adult Guardian about retaining a solicitor.

    I spent the day working on the new website “Queensland the Cruel State. negligence one day, cover-up the next”. (link above)

    I have also been studying up on the confidentiality clauses of the Act in preparation for the picket *which is not this Wednesday but the following one – the 29th*. Hopefully the mainstream media will be there and I understand some independent people are planning to video the event to put on YouTube – not definite yet. I have said to them, and I say to anyone else who is going to get video or audio recordings of the event to talk to me at some stage about the legal situation. The mainstream media can look after themselves but there are things that indy film makers and youtubers need to know before they broadcast anything.

    So the question is, what are we alowed to talk about publically?
    If everyone sticks to a structural critique of the guardianship regime, or makes comparisons with it ot other human rights abuses such as the U.S. military commissions then there is no problem.

    In terms of our own family situation, I shall keep my observations of the act to myself in case I do end up being charged for breacing the suppression order as these observations will be the framework of a defense case. I will however say that the act itself has inherent defenses for going much further than what I have released publically allready. There is clearly a repression but there is not so clearly a relief from the repression. I have not yet looked at the precedence of these sections of the act. I suspect there may not have been one. The act is only 7 years old and given the heaviness of the tribunal’s application of suppression orders I am not at all surprised that people are scared to challenge them. I know I am.

    The fact that the president of the GAAT was unaware that her own act contained a whistleblower clause makes me think that these issues have never been explored or tested before.

    As I say, I am now more confident of saying what I am saying after studying the act. However, a more closer examination of the act’s confidentiality and whistleblowers sections has revealed several gaping loophole that a drunken disinterested lawyer could drive a semi-trailer through. Loopholes that even I say should be fixed because they are dangerous.
    I shall put my findings in a submission to the Qld. Law Reform Commission enquiry into guardianship laws and perhaps print them on Oz in the future, especially if I am charged, but for now I will keep these loopholes as a secret weapon in case I need them.

    JT

  7. Today the family got response from the Adult Guardian to its most recent request for a review of a decision. (not the GAAT one, another one). The response was an invitation to apply for a review of the decision, with no response to the issues of the original request for a review.

    I hope you can see the pattern in all this.

  8. It’s Saturday morning, a week has passed with no news or developments except we have heard a rumour that the Adult Guardian have retained a solicitor for the person. The family has still heard nothing of this from the Adult Guardian, nor been given the opportunity to put a submission to this lawyer for Wednesday’s court case.

    However the top dog of the Adult Guardian – the “Adult Guardian” herself wrote a letter to the family this week insisting that the Adult Guardian is obliged to work with families, but gave no explaination why they have not. She also recommended the family take their concerns to the ombudsman and the Queensland Law reform Commission. The family took their concerns to the ombudsman late last year when the Adult Guardian decided the person should stay living in the park. The ombudsman’s response was they could do nothing until the Adult Guardian had finished its own review of the matter. Apparently an internal review was done but it was not released to the family, the GAAT, the Attorney general or the ombudsman, so the ombudsman is still waiting for a response from the Adult Guardian from last December. But the family took the Adult Guardian’s advice and reminded the ombudsman of their nine month old complaint.

    The family also contacted the Law Reform Commission and the Public advocate last december and had no reply from either of them. However since the picket has been called, both organisations have contacted the family.

    It seems you must be prepared to challenge the confidentiality restrictions to take the matter public before any state agency will even bother to take you seriously.

    This week the family have spoken to some media outlets about the picket next Wednesday. However, given that they are not allowed to report on the Adult Guardian without a court order from the GAAT, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, is reported. If they too are repressed by the GAAT then I will just have to “press” on in the blogosphere. This is a case in point of the importance of self publishing that is made possible by the internet. I can take my own risks and say what I want and bypass restrictions and fears of the mainstream media.

    Stay tuned
    JT

  9. Todays picket was a success in a slowly but surely kind of way. There was heaps of media turned up but it will be interesting to see if anything appears on TV or in the paper. The journalists were all very interested in the story but the secrecy clauses of the Guardianship and Administration Act limit severely what they can broadcast. I did an interview and was told that my face would be pixelated if the interview was run. Drew Hutton from the Queensland Greens did some interviews about the structural issues of the Guardianship laws, in particularly the secrecy, so there will be no legal problems for the media with him.

    The court case was positive but unproductive. The person at the centre of all this was convicted of yet another offence and has therefore breached his probation order. However the magistrate has allowed the family’s input into the hearing in a couple of weeks to look at the breach of probation, the reasons for the rescidivism and options for a change in circumstance for the person. So all in all, everything is still in the same box it was in yesterday but today the lid of the box has been finally lifted, if only a little bit..

    I have met a lot of people through this process of going public about the Adult Guardian and have a number of new avenues and options to continue with. I have met a man who has appealed to the supreme court against a Guardianship and Administration Tribunal order that he does not have the capacity to make decisions for his own life. This person has, without a lawyer, prepared and lodged these applications by himself, something that until now I thought was beyond my own capacity. We were presented with two estimates for a lawyer to lodge a Supreme Court appeal – $15,000 and $20,000 which is out of our reach as we are pensioners so we had dismissed this path. However, this man who is competent enough to run his own Supreme Court appeal against the GAAT’s determination that he is incompetent, has given another avenue of hope as well as what comes out of the follow up from the today’s magistrates court hearing.

    I shall finish these updates now and allow this matter to go back behind closed doors. Right now there is a little bit of movement behind the scenes so I will see what happens. If things dont keep changing however then be assured I will resume exposing the Guardianship regime and what it is doing to “the person”.

    Over and Out, for now.