Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New Public Trustee framework welcomed

The Tasmanian Government has welcomed a new framework by the Public Trustee which it says will improve the way the body delivers its important services to Tasmanians.

“We recognise the important role that the Public Trustee plays in the Tasmanian community, providing specialist and independent trustee services to Tasmanians, including some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Tasmanian Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Guy Barnett.

“The new framework announced today is an important step by the Public Trustee to ensure a people-centric model is at the very core of all decision-making for people under guardianship and administration orders.

“These are some of Tasmania’s most vulnerable, and our Government is committed to ensuring they are protected and supported to make decisions about their future.”

The Attorney-General said the new framework was another significant step in the delivery of the recommendations made as part of the Independent Review conducted by Damian Bugg AM KC.

“Twenty-six of the 28 recommendations have now been completed with all remaining recommendations due to be completed shortly, including the Office of the Economic Regulator review into fees and charges, which is currently underway,” the Attorney-General said.

“We thank the Public Trustee, led by CEO Todd Kennedy, for their engagement and commitment to implement the recommendations.

“The Trustee has been building strong relationships with stakeholders, including with the Office of the Public Guardian, to develop the new supported decision-making model.

Tasmanian Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Guy Barnett.

“This approach complements our Government’s work to contemporise our Guardianship and Administration laws, which represents a fundamental shift in the legal framework to a will and preference model, delivering on our commitment to further protect the rights of presented persons.”

Public Trustee CEO, Todd Kennedy, said the new framework was a significant shift towards enhancing the lives of individuals with impaired decision-making abilities who need support.

“The supported decision-making framework will help the Public Trustee carry out the rights, will and preferences of our clients with disabilities or impaired decision-making abilities,” Mr Kennedy said.

“In line with evolving best practices in other Australian jurisdictions and internationally, Tasmania is shifting from a ‘best interests’ approach to one that empowers individuals with impaired decision-making abilities to actively participate in decisions that affect their lives.”

The new frameworks follows recent legislative changes to the Guardianship and Administration Amendment Bill 2023, which bring Tasmanian laws into line with guardianship and administration laws as recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission and other bodies.

“A core objective of the Act is to safeguard and champion the rights and dignity of individuals with impaired decision-making abilities, guided by the principles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This means extending comprehensive support to those with impaired decision-making abilities to enable them to make, participate in, and implement decisions that profoundly impact their lives,” said Mr Kennedy.

“The development of this innovative framework was informed by rigorous evidence-based best practices and developed through extensive consultation with clients, Public Trustee staff, and our stakeholders.

“I would also like to thank Professor Christine Bigby and Professor Jacinta Douglas, two of Australia’s leading experts in this area for their contribution.”

Professor Bigby and Professor Douglas attended a training session today (pictured, right) with Public Trustee staff to discuss the supported decision-making framework and its implementation.

Key Highlights:

  • The supported decision-making framework is a cornerstone of the transformational changes we are making at the Public Trustee.
  • The Public Trustee sought the advice of renowned experts in this field, Professor Christine Bigby and Professor Jacinta Douglas, who have worked closely with Public Trustee staff to shape this framework.
  • This framework has been designed to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights and dignity of individuals with impaired decision-making abilities, aligning seamlessly with the new legislative requirements.
  • The framework equips Public Trustee staff with the necessary guidance to support individuals under administration orders in actively participating in decisions relating to their financial affairs, ensuring their rights, will, and preferences are duly respected. Substitute decision-making will be considered only as a last resort and within specific legal boundaries.
  • The development of the framework has been done in collaboration with clients, stakeholders, and staff.
  • The Public Trustee is committed to delivering high-quality services that empower and uplift individuals with impaired decision-making abilities, in accordance with the principles of justice, dignity, and the right to self-determination.

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