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The Office of the Public Guardian opens Cairns hub Posted: Friday 6 March 2015

On 2 February 2015 the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) — the statutory body which protects the rights of vulnerable Queenslanders — opened its latest hub in Cairns.

The OPG was created on 1 July 2014 following a recommendation made by the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry and has special responsibilities to support and protect the rights of children and young people in out-of-home care.

One of the Commission’s key recommendations was that the voices of children and young people in the child protection system needed to be heard and their wishes should be taken into consideration when decisions were being made that affected them and their care arrangements. It proposed doing this by providing child advocacy services through a statewide network of hubs run by the OPG.

The new hub in Cairns is the fourth which the OPG has opened since its creation on 1 July 2014 and joins the existing hubs in South Brisbane, Ipswich and Townsville.

‘These are not just offices’ says Kevin Martin, Queensland’s Public Guardian, ‘they are readily accessible places where vulnerable children and young people can go to be heard, raise grievances and concerns about their care, get legal advice and independent help should they need it. This new hub in Cairns is an important step in the development of the OPG’.

Cairns was specifically chosen as the latest hub location to provide support and advocacy to Indigenous children and young people in the child protection system in Far North Queensland.

‘Sadly there are a disproportionately high number of Indigenous children represented in the child protection system’ adds Barbara Webster, the OPG’s Regional Manager for far North Queensland. ‘Approximately 40% of children and young people in Queensland’s child protection system identify as being from an Indigenous background and this figure is significantly higher here in Far North Queensland’.

‘The new hub is in Abbott Street, just back from the Esplanade, so it’s got easy access for kids as we are right in the centre of the city’ says Barbara. ‘This hub is an important safeguard for the rights and wellbeing of children and young people from Indigenous backgrounds up here’.

While the catalyst for the opening of the Cairns hub comes from a recommendation made by Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, the Office of the Public Guardian looks after the rights, interests and wellbeing of all vulnerable Queenslanders, and guardians will also provide support to adults with impaired decision making from the new hub.

Office of the Public Guardian Cairns Hub:

Address: 141-143 Abbott Street, Cairns QLD 4870
Postal address: PO Box 6905, Cairns QLD 4870
Phone: +61 7 4039 8805
Fax: +61 7 4039 8811
Email: Cairns@publicguardian.qld.gov.au 

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