Powers of investigation

Proposal 3–3              Public advocates or public guardians should have the power to require that a person, other than the older person:

(a)      furnish information;

(b)     produce documents; or

(c)      participate in an interview

relating to an investigation of the abuse or neglect of an older person.

3.41       In order to effectively investigate elder abuse, the public advocate/guardian requires the power to gather information and evidence. This proposal reflects the powers available to a number of statutory agencies with investigative powers including, for example, powers granted to the Public Guardian in Queensland.[66]

3.42       The ALRC proposes that this power only be available with respect to persons other than the older person, to ensure that the older person retains their right to refuse investigation, support or assistance. The ALRC does not propose that the public advocate/guardian be given a power to enter and inspect premises. This contrasts with the British Columbia, and the VLRC’s recommendations, where such a power is available following the issue of a warrant. In the ALRC’s view, it is appropriate for powers of entry and inspection without consent be restricted to police agencies. This preserves the supportive and consent-based nature of the investigative function. It may also promote greater coordination between agencies in responding to elder abuse.