Individual Advocacy

Individual advocacy involves supporting people to exercise their rights by providing assistance to: voice concerns, access information, resolve issues or to identify available support options.

We can advocate on behalf of children, young people and adults whose situation or condition:

  • impacts on their rights or wellbeing or
  • places them at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

This may include people with a disability, mental health concerns or other conditions that result in impaired decision-making capacity or a legal disability.

Wherever possible, the PACYPC undertakes individual advocacy with a forward focus to promote and ideally secure a response that ensures that an individual’s rights are upheld.

In both our individual advocacy and oversight work, we focus on ensuring that systems are doing what they are supposed to be doing in the way they are supposed to be doing it.

We may also advocate for an individual where we identify issues with the provision of a service that is grounded in statutory obligations, particularly where these obligations are not being met. It should be recognised that individual advocacy can be a tool to mitigate against a situation becoming a complaint.

In recognition of this, there are often situations where the Discrimination, Health Services and Disability and Community Services Commissioner will refer a matter to the PACYPC for advocacy as a means of facilitating an appropriate and more immediate response to the matter at hand.
We may be able to provide you or someone you care about with individual advocacy in relation to:

  • child and youth protection services, including youth justice
  • education
  • housing
  • mental Health
  • family violence and personal protection orders or
  • complex service provision needs.

Child and youth protection services

We can advocate on behalf of children and young people:

  • involved with Child and Youth Protection Services (CYPS), including youth justice and particularly the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre
  • who are placed in out of home care (OoHC)
  • involved with mental health services, including those detained in a mental health facility.

We may undertake individual advocacy on behalf of the child or young person if requested by the child or young person themselves, or by a:

  • parent
  • foster carer
  • kinship carer
  • member of the community or
  • service provider.

When a child or young person is brought to the attention of the Public Advocate, we seek to ensure that their rights are upheld in accordance with relevant legislation.

In providing individual advocacy, we seek outcomes that focus on the best interests of the child or young person. This may include seeking additional services for the child or young person, or a change in the way that services are delivered.

We will engage with the child or young person to obtain their views to the extent that this is practicable and appropriate in the circumstances.

Youth Justice

Our team visit young people on remand or sentenced at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre on a regular basis, or at the request of the young person. This is to ensure the young person understands their rights, receives appropriate standards of care, and is treated fairly.

Young people detained or on remand at the Bimberi Youth Justice Centre have the option to contact us by telephone to discuss individual concerns. This is a free call.

Mental Health

We also support people with mental health concerns who are engaged with the mental health and/or justice systems, including through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) and ACT courts.

We may provide you with advocacy support if you or someone close to you contacts us directly, if we believe you are in need of protection from abuse, neglect or exploitation, or if you have been referred to us by an agency, court or tribunal. We always seek to ensure that your views and wishes are known and used to inform decision-making.

Our mental health advocacy team regularly goes to ACT hospitals, the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Alexander Maconochie Centre to monitor the services being provided in these facilities, and we can meet with you while we are there, or at your request, to discuss any concerns that you may have.

Children and young people on involuntary mental health orders who have been admitted to hospital will receive a visit from us to help them to understand their rights and to explain the process they are involved in.

We can also attend mental health hearings organised by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal to ensure that children and young people have their views and wishes heard, and that decisions are made in accordance with the relevant legislation.

Family violence and personal protection orders

Another important role that we have is to review and monitor domestic violence orders (DVO) and personal protections orders (PPO) and applications for orders referred from the Magistrates Court for children and young people, and any other person who the court considers to have a legal disability and therefore, as a respondent, may be vulnerable before the Courts.

We review all paperwork received to determine whether there is a need for advocacy or referral to an appropriate agency to support the person involved.

Management assessment panel

One of the PACYPC’s staff provides executive officer support to the management assessment panel.

The management assessment panel accepts referrals in relation to children, young people and adults, it exists as a last resort means by which to facilitate cross-agency service delivery for people who have a disability and complex needs, where service delivery has been poorly coordinated or inadequate, and where there is a serious risk to the person.

The management assessment panel is not involved in providing direct services, case management or complaints handling but instead offers a facilitated process where no other solution exists. It recognises the rights of individuals to access a range of health and social service providers and has been established to work with the existing government and non-government service providers.

Care coordination

We also provide executive officer functions to the ACT Care Coordinator when people are placed on a community care order by the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

A Community Care Order can be made under the Mental Health Act 2015 when:

  • a person has a mental dysfunction, and
  • because of that dysfunction, is at risk of doing serious harm to themselves or others, and
  • where care treatment or support cannot be provided in a less intrusive way.

There is no age restriction on who may be placed on a community care order.