Report highlights: Managing the affairs of people under financial management and/or guardianship orders

What this report is about

This audit assessed whether NSW Trustee and Guardian is effectively delivering public guardianship and financial management services in line with legislative requirements and standards.

What we found

NSW Trustee and Guardian is delivering guardianship and financial management services in line with its broad legal authority.

However, NSW Trustee and Guardian does not have sufficient oversight to ensure that its services are consistent with legislative principles which aim to promote positive client outcomes.

The agency's governance and practices could be better supported by relevant training and guidance to account for the diversity of its clients.

It does not track the actual costs of service delivery, the quality of services or client experiences and key findings from previous reviews remain unresolved.

Government funding for public guardianship services and direct financial management services for low-wealth clients has not kept pace with the growth in clients.

There is a risk that some fee-paying clients are unknowingly subsidising others.

NSW Trustee and Guardian has applied additional funding to increase frontline staff, but gaps in monitoring and IT system constraints create a risk that it will not address service quality issues, nor be able to demonstrate the impact of this new funding.

What we recommended

We recommended that NSW Trustee and Guardian:

  • Broaden governance arrangements to enable input to key decisions from people with lived experience, relevant peak bodies and representatives of diverse communities.
  • Implement mechanisms to seek feedback on the effectiveness and quality of services from clients under orders.
  • Assess staff competency and implement regular training in effectively serving clients with disability, dementia, mental illness, cognitive impairments and other factors relevant to decision-making incapacity.
  • Implement a risk-based quality framework to assess whether public guardian and financial management decisions are in line with policy and the legislative principles.
  • Improve data collection and monitoring to track performance, the costs to serve, and client outcomes and report on these publicly.

Fast facts

  • 19,500+  financial management and guardianship clients in June 2022
  • 46% increase in guardianship clients between FY2018-FY2022
  • 15% increase in direct and private financial management clients between FY2018-FY2022
  • 59% of direct financial management and guardianship clients lived with either a mental illness or intellectual disability in June 2022
  • 68% of direct financial management clients were low-wealth and eligible for fee subsidies in June 2022
  • 9% of guardianship clients identified as Aboriginal in June 2022, triple the proportion of Aboriginal people in the NSW population.


Further information

Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.