I'm not sure whether most people here will even be aware that such a government entity exists?
The Adult Guardian is supposed to exist to look after the welfare of any person who is without a family member or someone to whom they have appointed Enduring Power of Attorney.
As such, we would assume that they would without question act in the best interests of that person.
This is an account of a real situation which has occurred over the last couple of years which I happen to know about because a family member is involved. I'll call her Susan.
Susan came out of a shopping centre in Sydney about two years ago and noticed a woman using a walker trying to call a taxi. She asked what direction the woman (call her Mary) was going, and offered to drive her home.
She discovered that Mary lived alone in a rented apartment with her much loved cat. When Susan asked if Mary had any family she was told, yes, one brother, but they had been estranged for many years.
So Susan, feeling concerned for the apparent aloneness and frailty of Mary, called in when she could, did small errands for Mary, drove her to doctor's appointments etc.
She discovered that Mary was under the care of the Adult Guardian. This had been instituted many years earlier when Mary was assaulted. She duly recovered and asked to have her independence restored, but this was refused.
The AG outsource case management to the private sector, and Mary was allocated a case worker who interviewed her once, said she would set up household help, a medi-alert alarm and anything else that she considered necessary. Mary would have to pay for this, plus the fee charged by the case worker's agency.
At that stage, Mary had over $400,000 in savings, and what she wanted was not to be 'managed' by anyone, and to be able to choose the services herself which she paid for. She was again turned down.
So over about 18 months, substantial amounts were simply taken from her bank to pay for services that were incompetent. The flat was not cleaned properly, her medi-alert alarm didn't function, but the thousands continued to go to the case worker who had never even seen her after that initial interview.
Susan arrived one day about three months ago to find Mary on the floor where she had been for many hours, having had a fall and broken a hip. She was duly taken to hospital and treated. Whilst there the AG - with no consultation or discussion with her - informed her that she would not be going home. She would instead be going to a nursing home. Mary is only 63. Her cat had already been taken to the RSPCA.
She remained in hospital for about eight weeks, during which time the rent for her apartment, the case worker's fees, and all the subsidiary services like the non-functional medi alert device continued to be paid out of her bank account. She asked for this to be ended and was fobbed off with, oh yes we're about to do that.
Eventually a nursing home place is found and she, protesting strongly, is put there. No chance to go back to her home - for which she was still paying - to get any personal things and very upset about her cat.
So she said to one of the staff "I'd rather be dead than be in here". That was all it took for them to call in the psychiatrist who charted her as having 'suicidal ideation', and she was sectioned and taken to a secure ward in the psych department of a Sydney hospital.
By this time, she was extremely upset, angry, protesting about her rights being trampled on, so was held down by four staff members and injected very much against her will with a depot preparation of an antipsychotic drug.
This will remain in her system for some months. It renders people flatly compliant, devoid of expression, usually causes massive weight gain and carries the risk of a particularly dreadful side effect, tardive dyskinesia, an irreversible disorder where various parts of the face or limbs engage in ceaseless movement.
And there she remains. Susan has spoken with the staff who have been polite to her but implacable.
As she doesn't have Enduring POA, there's nothing she can do. Meantime, the case worker fees continue to be milked from Mary's account and there is nothing she can do about it.
So, forgive me if I'm a lot more concerned about the rights of vulnerable people like Mary than any measures our intelligence agencies might wish to take that they consider will assist them to keep Australia safe.