The work of the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) is wide-ranging and often deals with complex matters and laws.
While every experience is different, the following collection of stories reveals some of the challenges that people with disability and their family, friends and carers have faced and how OPA has assisted them.
As each person’s circumstances are different, we recommend you call OPA’s Advice Service on 1300 309 337 for advice and information specific to your situation.
Advocating to close institutions
Residential institutions for people with disability have a history of human-rights abuses. Since its establishment in 1986, OPA, through its Community Visitors Program has documented the unacceptable conditions for residents and strongly advocated to close these institutions.
During the 1990s institutions were gradually closed and people moved into the community. However, around 200 people with disability live in two remaining institutions at Bundoora and Colac. OPA continues to advocate that these people also be included in community life.
Advocacy and guardianship for Angelo
After receiving a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Angelo wants to die at home despite the dilapidated condition of his house and the recommendation from the treating team that he be placed in care.
Because he has mild to moderate cognitive impairment, an OPA guardian was appointed by VCAT as guardian to consider where he should live. The OPA guardian determined that Angelo should go home.
Medical decisions for Ms D
Following a number of hospital admissions for swallowing difficulties, doctors proposed inserting a feeding tube into the stomach of Ms D, a woman with severe intellectual disability. As Ms D could not consent to the procedure and had no family to do so for her, hospital staff contacted OPA’s Advice Service to ensure they were meeting legal requirements to go ahead with the procedure.
After discussing Ms D’s case with hospital staff, concerns about the consequences of the procedure were raised, and OPA’s Advice Service staff recommended an application for guardianship be made so a decision could be made in the best interests of Ms D.
Advocacy for Gerry in the NDIS
OPA provided advocacy for Gerry, a 54-year-old man with an intellectual disability, so he could participate in the pilot of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The OPA advocate met with Gerry, a staff member from his supported accommodation and a National Disability Insurance Agency planner.
With support from the OPA advocate, Gerry revealed he did not like some of the activities he was paying for, and wanted to live alone, despite these issues not being reported in his personal plan. Gerry was able to have an NDIS plan developed which would allow him to try new activities and be considered for a move to new accommodation.