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- Unreported Judgment
KKA  QCAT 334
Guardianship and administration matters for adults
On the papers
Senior Member Endicott
24 June 2016
1. The Public Guardian is appointed guardian for KKA for the following personal matters only:
(a) accommodation decisions;
(b) with whom KKA has contact and/or visits;
(c) health care of KKA;
(d) provision of services for KKA.
2. The Tribunal directs the guardian to provide a written account of their actions as guardian to the Tribunal no later than three (3) working days prior to the hearing.
3. This guardianship appointment remains current for three (3) months or, if the Tribunal makes a further order in this matter, until the date of the further order, whichever is the sooner.
GUARDIANS AND ADMINISTRATORS – APPOINTMENT – whether formal support for personal decision-making required
PROCEDURE – STATE AND TERRITORY COURTS – PERSONS UNDER LEGAL INCAPACITY OTHER THAN CHILDREN: JURISDICTION AND POWERS – where interim appointment of a substituted decision-maker sought for adult – where evidence that adult had met a man on an internet dating site and had made arrangements to pay for his travel and accommodation costs involved in meeting him in person - where proposal of marriage made and accepted before a meeting had taken place – where prior history of adult being exploited because of a desire to keep a male companion – whether immediate risk of harm to the adult’s welfare
Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld), s 129(1)
This matter was heard and determined on the papers pursuant to s 32 of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) (QCAT Act).
REASONS FOR DECISION
- An administrator was appointed on 14 January 2016 to make decisions about financial matters for KAA. At the hearing held on that date, an application for the appointment of a guardian to make certain personal decisions for KKA was dismissed. Subsequently an application was made to QCAT for the appointment of a guardian by the Area Operations Manager of a service provider whose organisation provides support to KKA. It was stated that KKA has an intellectual disability, she is very vulnerable and easily persuaded by other people to make decisions that are not in her interests. It was also stated that KKA is at risk of harm and exploitation by men she meets on the internet and then meets in person. It was also stated that KKA has a range of comorbid health issues for which she refuses to attend medical appointments. It was submitted that these issues will be life threatening in the future if left untreated.
- The applicant stated that there had been appointments of a guardian in the past but when the appointments were revoked, KKA put herself at risk almost immediately. The applicant stated that KKA was at a high risk of exploitation due to her keenness to be in a relationship at almost any cost, which in the past has included her dignity, financial and emotional wellbeing as well as her physical health. KKA is currently married but has separated from her husband and a divorce is expected to take place once 12 months of separation has occurred. KKA’s husband continued to influence KKA to contribute to his finances despite being separated.
- The applicant also applied for an interim appointment of a guardian. QCAT can make an appointment of a decision maker on an interim basis for up to three months under s 129 (1) of the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld) (the GAA) without holding a hearing. Before an interim order can be made, the Tribunal must be satisfied, on reasonable grounds, that there is an immediate risk of harm to the welfare or property of the adult concerned because of the risk of abuse, exploitation or neglect of the adult.
- It was stated that KKA lives in 24 hour supported accommodation with two other people. The evidence given to the Tribunal was that KKA had been meeting men over the internet on a dating site and had usually limited her activities to talking on the phone. It was stated that KKA has changed the interaction she has with these men and has started to meet them face to face. On one occasion, KKA met a man on a dating site and went to his house two days later. In the week when the application for an interim order was filed, KKA arranged to meet a man who was travelling from Bundaberg to meet her as she was unable to travel to Bundaberg to meet him.
- Evidence provided to QCAT was that KKA had told her support workers that she intended to pay for the train fare for this man and his brother and intended to pay for a hotel room for the man. After discussing this matter with her support workers, KKA changed her mind and said she would not pay for the fares for this man. Nevertheless, the support workers have heard phone conversations where this person continued to ask KKA for money. KKA told the support worker that the man had proposed to her over the phone and she had accepted his proposal. KKA would be supplying the engagement and wedding rings.
- Evidence was given that the support workers and KKA’s father were concerned that this relationship appears to be repeating the pattern of previous relationships where KKA allowed herself to be financially exploited due to the fact that she is lonely and is prepared to do almost anything to attract and keep a male companion. It was stated that KKA is very easily manipulated into handing money over to men who request it and then has insufficient money to take part in community activities. It was stated that there is a concern that KKA is prepared to accept emotional and physical abuse from men due to her fear of them leaving her.
- The applicant stated that the service provider had put some safety plans in place such as KKA phoning every two hours to let staff know she is safe but KKA could be convinced not to follow the plans. KKA’s father fears for his daughter’s safety and has had to intervene in the past when KKA has been emotionally, physically and financially exploited by men she had invited into her life. KKA’s father supports the appointment of a guardian.
- The evidence has established that KKA had met a man on an internet dating site, had made plans to meet up with him, had received a proposal of marriage from him and had accepted that proposal. Her support workers have tried to put safety measures into place but they cannot prevent KKA from meeting up with men she barely knows and placing herself at risk of emotional and financial exploitation. The evidence establishes that KKA has demonstrated a pattern of this behaviour that has in the past placed her at risk of harm.
- The evidence demonstrates that KKA does not appreciate the risks she is facing in making decisions about meeting men for relationship purposes. The current proposal of marriage has been made by a person KKA has not physically met and who had asked for and expected that she would pay for his travel and accommodation costs to come to Brisbane to meet her. Despite being told of the risks she faced in such a relationship, KKA is proceeding with her plans and has placed herself at immediate risk of harm both physically and emotionally.
- The evidence satisfied the Tribunal that KKA’s welfare was at an immediate risk of harm and that she required some immediate formal support for decision-making about personal matters. She had placed herself at risk of harm in making arrangements to meet up with a man she had met on an internet dating service and whose marriage proposal she had accepted. KKA had in the past been exploited due to her desire to meet and keep a male companion. KKA was at risk of being negatively influenced into making decisions about where she lived, what services she had and about who she had contact with and of being taken away from her support network who could provide some assistance with the complex issues in her life.
- The Public Guardian was appointed on an interim basis to make some personal decisions for KKA. There would be an opportunity for the Tribunal to consider if a guardian should remain in place on an ongoing basis when the hearing of the application for the appointment of a guardian is held. KKA and her family and her support workers will be able to address the Tribunal and give their views on what, if any, formal decision-making support is needed on an ongoing basis.
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- Shortened Case Name:
 QCAT 334
Senior Member Endicott
24 Jun 2016