News

National Carers Week

17/10/2016

National Carers Week 2016 will be celebrated throughout Australia from 16-22 October. National Carers Week is about recognising and celebrating the outstanding contribution Australia’s 2.8 million unpaid carers make.

Mental Health Week

10/10/2016

How is is your Mental Health?

 

South Australians are invited to celebrate Mental Health Week from 9 to 15 October by attending a range of events, performances, discussions and more.

Many of the activities are free and encourage communities to connect and spread the message that mental health is important for everyone. The free activities include:

 

Stall in the Mall

11 October, Rundle Mall

Say hello to those who are working and involved in the mental health sector. Grab some giveaways, soak up the music and add your message of gratitude to our interactive washing lines.

 

Mental Health Week Launch and Mental Health Excellence Awards Ceremony

Tuesday 11 October, 4-6pm, Adelaide Oval

RSVP to HealthMentalHealthFeedback@sa.gov.au

Come along to the official launch of Mental Health Week and celebrate the winners and finalists of the 2016 Mental Health Excellence Awards. The Awards will be presented by the Hon Leesa Vlahos MP, Minister for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, Chris Burns, SA Mental Health Commissioner, Geoff Harris, Executive Director, Mental Health Coalition SA and Dr Aaron Groves, Chief Psychiatrist. The MC will be Mental Health Week ambassador, Ali Clarke, with live music by Forté.

Mindspeak – community talks on Mental Fitness

10 to 13 October, various times and locations at www.mhcsa.org.au

Being mentally fit can help you live your best life. Did you know there are things you can do to build resilience, foster good thoughts and feelings and prevent burnout? Join us for these free library talks in and around Adelaide.

Festival of Now

Friday 14 October, 10.30am – 3.00pm, Light Square

The Festival of Now is back! A flagship event for Mental Health Week, the open air festival is a celebration of mental health and wellbeing. Featuring live local bands, storytelling, drumming, comedy, yoga, circus skills, face painting, animals, art, MOSH opshop, health checks, rainbow stall and NGO stalls, there is something for everyone.

For a complete list of activities, including regional events, go to the Mental Health Coalition SA website.  More information about mental health and support is available on the SA Health website

Planning Ahead Week - 12 - 16 September 2016

13/09/2016

It is never too early to plan ahead.

Planning Ahead is about taking control of your future. It means that your choices will be known and acted on if you cannot express them yourself at some time in the future.

This may happen if you have a sudden accident, become very ill or develop a condition that affects your memory and your planning ability.

Thinking about your future and making your wishes known in advance can help reduce family stress and conflict during times of crisis.

It is important for all adults to understand the benefits of early planning. A suite of legal tools is available to help secure your future health, financial, legal and personal choices – such as an Advance Care Directive, Enduring Power of Attorney, Will and registration for Organ and Tissue Donation.

Planning Ahead Week 2016 provides an opportunity to think about taking control of your future:

·        Talk to your family now about your future wishes.

·        Act now to protect your future rights, wishes, values and preferences.

Visit www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/planningahead or www.opa.sa.gov.au/planning_ahead and www.advancecaredirectives.sa.gov.au for further information and resources.

Elder abuse

12/09/2016

The Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC announced a new Inquiry for the ALRC on 'Protecting the Rights of Older Australians from Abuse' on 24 February 2016.

The ALRC released an Issues Paper on 15 June 2016 and called for submissions from the public. Submissions closed on 18 August 2016.

The ALRC will release a Discussion Paper in late 2016 with proposals for reform, and will again call for submissions.

The reporting date is May 2017.

The Office of the Public Advocate made a submission – to view our submission click here.   

We look forward to the Discussion Paper being released later this year.

Planning Ahead Week

09/09/2016

September 12-16 is Planning Ahead Week and it’s time to take control of your future!

Depending on your stage of life or circumstances you can decide which of these tools will help you plan ahead..

  • Appointing an attorney through an Enduring Power of Attorney who can manage legal and financial affairs if you are no longer able to.
  • Make an Advance Care Directive which is a legal document where a person is able to write down his or her instructions, wishes and preferences for future health care, accommodation and personal matters, and/or appoint one or more substitute decision makers who are people chosen to made decisions on his or her behalf in any period of impaired decision making capacity, or as determined by the person.
  • Making a Will to appoint an executor and to direct your estate to be distributed according to your wishes on death

Where can I get additional advice?

You can get advice from the Office of the Public Advocate Information & Advisory Service on 08 8342 8200 and Legal Services Commission information service on phone number 1300 366 424.

Further information can also be found at  http://www.lsc.sa.gov.au/ and SA Health http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/planningahead

Annual Report 2014-15

01/12/2015

The annual report for 2014-2015 has been tabled. To view the report please click here.

WARNING RE ABUSE OF EPA

26/05/2015

Abuse of Enduring Power of Attorneys: A number of recent matters that have come to the attention of our Office, prompts this warning about the risks of financial abuse of older people, and the potential abuse of enduring powers of attorney.

Enduring Powers of Attorney are excellent tools to plan ahead and all adults should consider having one.  In making an EPA people should also be aware of potential risks.  A few simple precautions in setting up EPAs can help stop fraud in the future.  The benefits of having a carefully prepared EPA outweigh the risks.

The EPA enables a person to appoint another person (or persons) to act on his or her behalf to make decisions about financial, property or legal matters should there come a time when the person is unable to do so themselves due to legal incapacity.  

However the EPA can also be a tool of financial abuse and it is often older people who are the victim.

People who are appointed by an EPA must know that they have an absolute and unconditional duty to act in the best interest of the person who appointed them.  If an appointed person acts improperly, he or she can be held personally and criminally liable.

When we make an Enduring Power of Attorney we can all take precautions to prevent such abuse.  These include considering the following.

  • The need to carefully choose the person who will act as your Attorney.  This must be a person you can trust to act in your interests.
  • Making other people you know aware of who you have appointed so they know what is happening.
  • Appointing two people and require that they act jointly instead of relying on one.
  • Making it a condition of your EPA that someone else (eg another family member or friend) receives copies of bank and other financial statement and regular reports from your Attorney.
  • Requiring that a doctor must certify any “legal incapacity” before the EPA comes into force.
  • If you still have concerns then require that your affairs are independently audited each year.  There is a cost to this.
  • Consider limiting the attorney’s power to deal with major assets such as selling or mortgaging your home.  (This can make arranging future accommodation difficult though.)

Advice about setting up an EPA or updating an existing EPA can be obtained from your  family lawyer, the Legal Services Commission, or the Public Trustee.

If there are concerns about potential financial abuse or elder abuse the Office of the Public Advocate Enquiry Service is available to call as well as the Aged Rights Advocacy Service.

Contact information

 

For information about preparing an EPA:

Your family lawyer

Legal Services Commission of South Australia: 1300 366 424

Public Trustee (08) 8226 9200 or country toll-free on 1800 673 119

Enquiries about potential abuse:

Office of the Public Advocate: (08) 8342 8200 and 1800 066 969 (country callers.)

Aged Rights Advocacy Services: (08) 8232 5377 and 1800 700 600 (country callers)

SA Civil & Administrative Tribunal starts 30 March 2015

23/03/2015

From 30 March 2015 the responsibilities of the Guardianship Board of SA will be taken on by the new SA Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT).  Applications which have been made to the Guardianship Board for orders or decisions will go to  the ‘Community Stream’  of SACAT.  The Tribunal will have the power to make orders and decisions which are currently made by the Guardianship Board under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1993, the Mental Health Act 2009, the Advance Care Directives Act 2013 and the Consent to Medical treatment and Palliative Care Act 1995.

The Tribunal will also have other areas of responsibility. More information is available on the SACAT website:  http://www.sacat.sa.gov.au/

NDIS National Quality and Safeguards Framework

06/03/2015

Public Consultation: A quality and safeguarding framework is being developed for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).  Australian governments are looking at ways to make sure that the national scheme will provide good quality supports and will maximise the choice and control of participants.  It will also be important that the rights of people are protected and participants are safe from harm. 

The national public consultation is now open.  The consultation is an invitation for anyone who is interested to provide comment.  Visit engage.dss.gov.au for further details. The closing date for submissions and other contributions is 30 April 2015.

New sexual offences law to commence March 30

05/02/2015

Important Information for Service Users and Service Providers: "New Protections for Vulnerable People in South Australia"

Late last year the South Australian Parliament passed the Criminal Law Consolidation (Sexual Offences - Cognitive Impairment) Amendment Bill.

It creates a new offence, sexual exploitation of person with a cognitive impairment.

This new law will provide an extra deterrence to potential perpetrators who might exploit positions of power and trust with their clients It applies to people who provide a service, whether for remuneration or not.

The new law creates two new offences.

 A person who provides a service to a person with a cognitive impairment, is guilty of an offence if he or she obtains or procures, by undue influence, sexual intercourse or indecent contact with that person.

The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 10 years.

There is also a second new offence of behaving in an indecent manner in the presence of that person, if it is without the person’s consent, or consent is obtained by undue influence. 

The maximum penalty for a first offence is imprisonment for 3 years, and up to 5 years for a subsequent offence.

Service providers - Presumption of Undue Influence

A defendant who is in this position of power, trust or authority in relation to the victim of the offences, is presumed to have obtained the consent of the victim by undue influence unless the defendant proves the contrary on the balance of probabilities.

These new offences, developed as part of the Government’s Disability Justice Strategy, will also be relevant across mental health, general health, aged care and other social services as well.

Cognitive impairment in this Act includes, an intellectual disability; a developmental disorder(including an autistic spectrum disorder); a neurological disorder; dementia; a severe mental illness; and a brain injury. 

Further information

A link to the new amendment is below.

The new amendment can be read by clicking here. (external link to SA Legislation site).