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On Monday, 30 August 2010, three initiatives were launched to assist with the administration of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Panel; the GAL Code of Conduct, the GAL Professional Advisory Committee and the GAL website.
Guest speaker, Judge Kevin O'Connor, President of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal highlighted the important role Guardians ad Litem have in proceedings in the Administrative Decisions Tribunal (ADT) when a person is incapable of representing him or herself, incapable of giving proper instructions to his or her legal representative, and/or under legal incapacity. The recent agreement between the GAL Panel and the ADT was also acknowledged.
In attendance were members of the GAL Panel, the Public Guardian, representatives of the ADT, Children's Court, and the Crown Solicitor's Office as well as the Office of the General Counsel, NSW Department of Justice.
The administrative responsibility for the GAL Panel was transferred from Court Services to the Office of the General Counsel on 1 July 2009. Since the transfer, the Office of the General Counsel has been working to review and reform the administration of the GAL Panel by updating guidelines and procedures.
The reforms to the GAL Panel are in accordance with recommendations of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW. They play an important part in addressing the aims of the NSW State Plan to provide and support the most vulnerable in society, including those with a disability or mental health issue. Persons with either an intellectual disability or mental health issue can be significantly disadvantaged in our court system, and there are real challenges for Government, the judiciary and the legal profession to ensure that there is equality in access to justice.
Above: Guest speaker, Judge Kevin O'Connor, President of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal with members of the Guardian ad Litem Panel and NSW Children's Court Representative