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Intro text: OPA responds to more than 13,000 requests a year from people with disability and their family, carers and friends.
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OPA's Advice Service provides information and assistance to:

  • people with disability
  • their family, carers and friends
  • professionals from the health, human services, legal, community services and government sectors.

OPA’s team of highly trained staff can provide advice on a diverse range of matters that affect people with disability, including:

  • guardianship and administration
  • enduring powers of attorney
  • medical treatment decision-making
  • matters affecting people with disability
  • referral to OPA's Community Visitors Program.

Your privacy and confidentiality are respected. If Advice Service staff are unable to help, they will refer you to a service that can.

Contacting OPA

OPA Advice Service operates from Monday to Friday from 9am to 4:45pm.

Telephone: 1300 309 337
TTY: 1300 305 612
National Relay Service: 133 677

If the Advice Service telephone line is busy, you can leave your contact details and an adviser will return your call as soon as possible. 

You can also contact the OPA Advice Service by:

Fax: 1300 787 510
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In-person visits are currently unavailable due to COVID-19 restrictions.

After hours

For urgent matters that cannot wait until the next business day, you can contact OPA after hours.

Urgent matters include:

  • emergency situations relating to people who have an OPA guardian
  • advice for medical professionals about urgent medical consent issues
  • urgent guardianship or administration applications
  • seeking advice on protection of a person with disability from abuse, violence or neglect
  • advice for private guardians appointed by VCAT confronted with an urgent issue.

Phone: 1300 309 337

Your call will be automatically transferred to the after-hours service. If the matter is not urgent, you will be asked to contact OPA during business hours.

Intro text: Human rights apply to everyone, including people with disability and mental illness.
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Further Information:
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https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN)
https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN)
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2018C00125 Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/in-force/acts/charter-human-rights-and-responsibilities-act-2006/014 Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic)
https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/in-force/acts/disability-act-2006/041 Disability Act 2006 (Vic)
https://www.legislation.vic.gov.au/in-force/acts/equal-opportunity-act-2010/020 Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)

Human rights are the basic rights and freedoms that belong to every person in the world.

They are outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

These rights apply to everyone, including people with disability and mental illness.

People with disability, however, may face barriers in exercising these rights.

The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) focuses on removing these barriers. Australia is a signatory to this convention and bound by its rules.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says you have the right to:

  • dignity
  • fairness
  • equality
  • respect
  • independence.

The CRPD says you have the right to:

  • choose where you live, and who you live with
  • receive the support you need to be included in the community
  • have equal access to community services and facilities that are available to the public
  • receive the support you need to make your own decisions.

OPA protects your human rights by:

  • treating you with respect
  • listening to you
  • supporting you to make your own decisions
  • helping you have the greatest role possible when making a decision that affects you
  • enabling volunteers to monitor and advocate for the human rights and social inclusion of people with disability and people with mental illness.
Intro text: SIL Houses are arrangements where a Supported Independent Living (SIL) provider provides SIP support to NDIS participants.
Further Information:
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https://www.consumer.vic.gov.au Consumer Affairs Victoria
https://www.vcat.vic.gov.au/case-types/residential-tenancies/apply-residential-tenancies VCAT residential tenancy disputes
https://www.ndiscommission.gov.au/ NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission

What are SIL Houses?

SIL Houses are arrangements where a Supported Independent Living (SIL) provider is providing SIL support to NDIS participants.

The arrangement is often characterised by:

  • the SIL provider owning or leasing the house
  • you have a lease, sub-lease, licence or other such agreement to live there.

Things to consider

You should think carefully before moving into a SIL House.

  • If you are leaving a group home or SDA accommodation and move to a SIL House, you will usually lose your SDA entitlement.
  • You may have to pay a bond.
  • You may have to pay for property damage, even if it is the result of your disability.
  • It will be easier for the provider to evict you (tell you that you must leave) than if you were in a group homes under the Disability Act or in SDA enrolled dwellings with an SDA residency agreement.

Before you sign, you should make sure any written agreement is checked by an independent person who has a good understanding of disability accommodation law.

Safeguards

  • Complaints to the NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commissioner.
  • Consumer Affairs Victoria for Australian Consumer Law.
  • The Victorian and Civil Administration Tribunal (VCAT) – residential tenancies list for tenancy disputes.
Intro text: OPA provides individual advocacy to people who have no other advocacy option.
Further Information:
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http://www.daru.org.au/organisations Find an advocate - Disability Advocacy Resource Unit (DARU)
https://www.valid.org.au/resources-and-media/resources/list-victorian-advocacy-organisations/ List of Victorian advocacy organisations - VALID

The Public Advocate is empowered by law to promote and safeguard the rights and interests of people with disability.

All OPA programs, staff and volunteers advocate for the rights of people with disability.

OPA may also provide individual advocacy to people with disability who have no other advocacy options, such as family, friends or local advocacy networks, or when all other advocacy options have failed. Priority is given to matters involving allegations of abuse, exploitation, neglect, at-risk behaviour or significant conflict.

As OPA has limited resources, it is unable to accept all requests for individual advocacy.

OPA’s Advice Service can refer matters to advocacy services if needed.

Intro text: While OPA staff collect and provide information, it is VCAT that decides whether a guardian or administrator is needed. 

When VCAT receives an application for administration or guardianship, or for orders about powers of attorney, the member (person making the decision) sometimes asks OPA to gather more information. This is to help VCAT decide whether to appoint a guardian or an administrator for the person the application is about. This is known as an investigation.

VCAT will ask OPA to find out specific information such as:

  • Does the proposed represented person (PRP) have a disability which affects their ability to make decisions about personal matters or about their financial and property affairs? Can the person make decisions about such matters if they are provided support?
  • Is there a decision that needs to be made for the person by a guardian or an administrator? Who should be appointed?
  • What is the PRP's will and what are their preferences – what do they want?
  • Can decisions be made informally or be reasonably made through negotiation or mediation?
  • What are the views of any primary carer, relative of the person, or someone with a direct interest in the application?
  • What are the relationships important to a PRP and how can they be preserved?
  • Has the person appointed under an enduring power of attorney (the attorney) complied with their duties as required under the rules applying to them?
  • Does the PRP require a medical treatment decision maker to be appointed?

During an investigation, the allocated investigator will usually seek to meet or speak with the PRP and other persons with an interest in the matter.

Whether the investigator meets with the PRP or any interested person will be subject to many factors, including OPA and Departmental rules, policies and directives and public health warnings.

After completing their investigation, the investigator will generally provide a written report to VCAT, which may make recommendations for VCAT to consider and decide on at a further hearing.

Note

  • While OPA staff collect and provide information, it is VCAT that decides whether a guardian, supportive guardian, administrator or supportive administrator is needed and, if so, who should be appointed.  It is also up to VCAT to decide whether an enduring power of attorney should be revoked, suspended, or whether other changes are required.