The office of the Public Trustee was established in 1881 and is constituted under the provisions of the Public Trustee Act 1995. The Public Trustee is a statutory officer pursuant to the Public Trustee Act 1995.

The Public Trustee is a body corporate with the powers of a natural person. The role of the Public Trustee is to provide financial and administrative services to the people of South Australia.

The Public Trustee helps those who cannot manage their own affairs, and those who have trusted us to assist them.

The Public Trustee’s Strategic Plan includes the following objectives:

  • People - We will be a workplace of choice. Our staff will be engaged in our culture, and feel empowered by leaders to develop their skills and capabilities.
  • Customer Experience - We will engage with our customers to understand their needs, and deliver a consistently high quality service, treating them with empathy and respect.
  • Continuous Business Improvement - Our environment will encourage staff to engage with business improvement ideas and initiatives, to find new ways to work and deliver excellent service to our customers.
  • Governance & Financial Stability- We will be supported by good governance that effectively manages critical risk. Our fees and charges will be competitive, whilst enabling us to meet our agreed fiscal targets.

Government objective Public Trustee Key Objective
Identifying new ways to work and deliver excellent service to the community we serve.


Flexibility and work-life balance

  • Increase the rollout of mobility devices to improve staff flexibility
  • Restrict meeting times to core hours where possible
  • Continue staff wellbeing program


  • Establish metrics that give facts and details for resource planning
  • Define timeframes for processes
  • Consider structure and opportunities to introduce specialist roles/subject matter experts
  • Adjust delegations as a recognition of staff trust and appropriate task level


  • Create a structured induction program for customer service staff
  • Identify key competencies per position
  • Undertake a skills gap analysis
  • Determine training needs based on the gap analysis
  • Build training to match competencies


  • Create an eThanks program (peer and leader recognition)
  • Undertake ongoing personal recognition at all levels
  • Publish corporate good news stories (to recognise and encourage pride in work)


  • Create a team leaders forum and interbranch forums to discuss ideas
  • Ensure that all Branch Managers attend other branch meetings to share information
  • Create a forum to share personal, non-work achievements, interests, community achievements

Continuous Business Improvement

  • Dedicate policy/procedure resources to review and simplify policies and procedures.
  • Investigate options to improve the use of AGD and across-government ICT infrastructure.
  • Create an electronic suggestion box and utilise “great ideas” program to generate ideas from operational staff.
  • Consider opportunities for greater data sharing with other agencies.
  • Review internal and external service standards.
  • Utilise ICT to enable business improvement.
Commitment to providing better services to South Australians and working to protect the vulnerable.

Customer Experience

  • Restructure communications with Personal Estates’ customers, including consideration of improved telephone call management.
  • Restructure how cases are managed in Estate Services to remove single point of failure.
  • Improve external agency collaboration by working with Centrelink, registries, Australian Taxation Office, banks, Correctional Services (prisons), Office of the Public Advocate, and South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
  • Improve information and service delivery at point of initial customer contact.
Effectively manage risk and contribute to a strong economy for South Australia.

Governance & Financial Sustainability

  • Review Control Self Assessments (internal control process).
  • Review delegations for operational effectiveness and risk.
  • Review fee structure:
    • benchmark to competitors (competitor scan)
    • present options for any proposed changes
    • assess feasibility and cost recovery
    • consider business model for Wills.
  • Develop performance reporting – transparent key performance indicators, relevant items to measure.
  • Complete all audit and Independent Commissioner Against Corruption findings by the due dates.
  • Deliver outcomes in accordance with the Charter and Performance Statement as agreed between the Attorney-General and the Treasurer.

Agency Program – Writing Wills & Powers of Attorney

Free Will and power of attorney drafting services are provided for all South Australians who nominate the Public Trustee as their executor, attorney or substitute attorney.

Activity Indicators2017-182016-17
New Wills 640 684
Revised Wills 956 1055
New & revised power of attorney documents 391 456
Visits to people in their homes or other facilities to prepare Wills 232 202
Effectiveness/Efficiency Indicators2017-182016-17
Customer satisfaction rating out of 5 with Will making services 4.82 4.78
Wills customers who would recommend the Public Trustee 94% 93%

Deceased Estates and Trusts Administration

The Public Trustee acts as executor of an estate where named executor in the Will, or as administrator when a person dies intestate (without a Will).

The Public Trustee manages court-awarded trusts, trusts established by a Will and trusts under deed for minors, as well as perpetual charitable and scholarship trusts.

Activity Indicators2017-182016-17
Administration of new estates 653 532
Administration of new trusts 125 118
Finalised deceased estates 681 661
Finalised trusts 175 196
Effectiveness/Efficiency Indicators                             2017-182016-17
Customer satisfaction rating out of 5 with deceased estate administration services 3.74 3.9
Deceased estate administration customers who would recommend the Public Trustee 56% 65%

Personal Financial Administration

The Public Trustee can be appointed legally responsible for making all, or some, of a person’s financial and legal decisions where that person has lost capacity to do so.

Activity Indicators                    2017-182016-17
Appointed administrator or manager of financial and legal affairs – new customers 468 500
Active financial administrations as at 30 June 4 414 4 324
Effectiveness/Efficiency Indicators                              2017-182016-17
Customer satisfaction rating out of 5 by customers and their representatives 3.83 4.03
Personal financial administration customers who would recommend the Public Trustee 78% 83%

Litigation Guardian

The Public Trustee may be appointed by a Court to act as ‘Next friend’ for customers unable to conduct their own legal proceedings.

Activity Indicators                    2017-182016-17
Appointed as litigation guardian – new customers 34 27
Matters on hand at 30 June 87 62
Effectiveness/Efficiency Indicators                              
Customer satisfaction data not collected due to small sample size

Monitoring Private Financial Administrators and Managers

The Public Trustee is required to annually examine and report on activities of private financial administrators and managers appointed by SACAT and the courts.

Activity Indicators                    2017-182016-17
Review of financial statements of private administrators, managers and executors1 8281 773
Matters referred to SACAT for non-compliance with reporting requirements14290
Information sessions held for newly appointed administrators to explain their responsibilities1514
Effectiveness/Efficiency Indicators2017-182016-17
Feedback from information sessionsExcellent/very goodExcellent/very good

  • Public Trustee Act 1995

Under the provisions of Section 5(2) of the Public Trustee Act 1995, the Public Trustee may act as a trustee, executor of a Will, administrator of an estate (whether or not of a deceased person), manager, receiver, committee, curator, guardian, next friend, agent, attorney, or stakeholder.

Other Acts that form the basis of how, and which services the Public Trustee delivers to customers are as follows:

  • Administration and Probate Act 1919;
  • Aged and Infirm Persons’ Property Act 1940;
  • Family Relationships Act 1975;
  • Guardianship and Administration Act 1993;
  • Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1972;
  • Legal Practitioners Act 1981;
  • Powers of Attorney and Agency Act 1984;
  • South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2013;
  • Trustee Act 1936;
  • Wills Act 1936.

The Public Trustee is a business unit of the South Australian Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) and as such complies with AGD policies. The Public Trustee employees are employees of the AGD.

The Public Trustee works closely with the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) when SACAT appoints the Public Trustee to administer the personal financial and/or legal affairs of people who are unable to manage their own affairs. At times, the Public Trustee works with the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) when there are mutual customers i.e. OPA as guardian and the Public Trustee as financial administrator.

Program nameResult of the program
Jobs4Youth One employee successfully completed the Jobs4Youth Program in 2017-18 and has since been offered further employment at the Public Trustee.
Graduate Program Two employees have commenced the graduate program during 2017-18 and are currently working through the program’s requirements.

Performance management and development systemAssessment of effectiveness and efficiency
Performance Review and Development Plans During 2017-18, 72% of the Public Trustee staff completed Performance Review and Development Plans.

As at 30 June 2018, 95% of employees had a development plan and performance review discussions.

During 2017-18 the Public Trustee continued use of AGD’s online performance and learning platform. The performance cycle requires employees and managers to set clear performance expectations (at least annually) and hold face to face reviews quarterly.

Program name and brief descriptionEffectiveness
Employee Assistance Program (EAP) All staff have access to a confidential Employee Assistance Program, offering a counselling service to support and assist staff with both professional and personal issues.
AGD Health and Safety Committee The Public Trustee has manager and employee representation on this committee, which provides a consultative forum to support and continuously improve work, health, safety and wellbeing systems and practices.
Work health and safety Inspections As part of the commitment to the safety of employees, six-monthly inspections are conducted to identify any hazards or risks with corrective action taken as needed.
The Public Trustee Staff Culture & Wellbeing Initiatives Staff are encouraged to participate in a range of social and wellbeing initiatives. As part of this, the Public Trustee staff raise funds to give back to the community through specially selected local charities and organisations.

Work health and safety and return to work performance

Work health and safety and return to work performance statistics for the Public Trustee are included in the Attorney-General’s Department Annual Report.

Nil. Data for the past five years is available at:

Strategies implemented to control and prevent fraud

In September 2017, the Independent Commissioner against Corruption released his report to Parliament on the Evaluation of the Practices, Policies and Procedures of the Public Trustee to assist in preventing or minimising corruption, misconduct and maladministration in public administration.

A set of 19 recommendations were made and the Public Trustee has developed actions and timelines to implement each of them. The following actions have been completed:

  • establishing a quality control position and commencing quality control audits;
  • undertaking an extensive staff engagement program (staff forums, increased communication, wellbeing and culture improvement initiatives);
  • establishing a Workplace Consultative Committee;
  • reviewing, simplifying and consolidating procedures (intranet, hyperlinks);
  • auditing a sample of high risk/high complexity files (representing each operational aspect of the organisation);
  • finalising the ICT Strategic Plan and work plan, to improve duplicate entry, recording approvals, and scanning invoices;
  • engaging a procurement specialist to manage contracts, and undertake business critical procurements;
  • reviewing storage, collection and security practices;
  • developing a data breach and privacy policy;
  • improving initial customer contact practices;
  • reviewing and implementing improved storage practices in relation to real estate/valuation information;
  • developing a plan to address key findings from the employee culture and well-being report (including measures of success).

The Public Trustee has an Audit and Risk Management Committee (ARMC) that endorses an annual internal audit plan. The internal audit plan is delivered by an independent auditing firm. During the year, the following internal audits were undertaken to assist fraud risk management;

  • Fraud and corruption control audit
  • Review of compliance against the fraud and corruption policy
  • Data analytics testing to assist in fraud detection.

Other actions to reduce the risk of fraud included:

  • Providing compliance certificates for investment activity to the Funds Management Forum and Investment Advisory committee;
  • Ensuring delegated authorities approve wages and overtime, and review material expenditure against delegated authorities; and
  • Ongoing monitoring of suspense account levels to ensure appropriate action is undertaken to address variances.

There were no occasions on which public interest information has been disclosed to a responsible officer of the agency under the Whistleblowers Protection Act 1993.

Data for previous years is available at:

Executive classificationNumber of executives

Data for previous years is available at:

The Office of the Commissioner of Public Sector Employment has a data dashboard for further information on the breakdown of executive gender, salary and tenure by agency.

The following is a summary of external consultants that have been engaged by the agency, the nature of work undertaken and the total cost of the work undertaken.

Consultancies below $10,000 each
Tasman Human Resource Consulting Human Resource Operations Review $8 096
Consultancies above $10,000 each
Mercer Investments (Aust) Ltd Customer Investment Tool Model Review $13 200
Total of all consultancies $21 296

See also the Consolidated Financial Report of the Department of Treasury and Finance for total value of consultancy contracts across the SA Public Sector.

The following is a summary of external contractors that have been engaged by the agency, the nature of work undertaken and the total cost.

Rawsons Electrical Pty Ltd Building Maintenance $670
Engie Fire Services Aust Pty Ltd Building Maintenance $1 029
Interpreting & Translating Centre Translating Services $1 070
Nijan Consulting HR Advice $1 276
SA Commercial Blinds Pty Ltd Building Maintenance $1 496
KWP! Advertising Pty Ltd Web Development $2 423
Tyrone Electrical Services Pty Ltd Electrical Contractor $2 568
Mediation Ers Pty Ltd Human Resource Services $3 432
Zip Heaters Aust Pty Ltd Building Maintenance $3 620
Chubb Fire & Security Pty Ltd Building Maintenance $3 646
Dorma Australia Pty Ltd Building Maintenance $5 392
Express Training Connections Training $7 080
Pinnacle Workplace Consultants HR Workplace Assessments $7 719
Cummins Hybrid Pty Ltd Marketing Services $7 783
Modis Staffing Pty Ltd Temp Staff Agency $9 053
SA Security Monitoring Pty Ltd Security Services $9 538
Scan Conversion Services Pty Ltd Scanning Services $10 425
Rentokil Initial Pty Ltd Building Maintenance $14 306
Bonita Kennedy Records Management $15 620
Swood Financial Solutions Pty Ltd IT Contract Work $16 685
Media Edge Cia Pty Ltd Advertising Services $21 250
Bold It Pty Ltd Recruitment Assistance $22 627
Wavemaker Australia Pty Ltd Advertising Services $30 073
KPMG Forensic Pty Ltd Corporate Strategy $32 340
Ernst & Young Customer Investment Model Review and Enhancements $40 315
Randstad Pty Ltd Temp Staff Agency $44 803
Careerlink People Solutions Temp Staff Agency $47 696
Pricewaterhouse Coopers Internal Audit and Risk Management Services $49 858
Hays Specialist Recruitment Pty Ltd Temp Staff Agency $79 507
Deloitte Risk Advisory Pty Ltd Internal Audit and Risk Management Services $260 308
Total  $753 608

Data is available at:

The details of all South Australian Government-awarded contracts for goods, services, and works are displayed on the SA Tenders and Contracts website here.

The website also provides details of across government contracts here.

Following is a brief summary of the overall financial position of the agency. Full audited Financial Statements for 2017-18 are attached to this report.

The Public Trustee achieved an operating surplus before income tax equivalents of $1.175m compared to a budgeted operating surplus of $425 000.

2017-18 Summary of Comprehensive Income

Actual 2017-18 $000s

Budget 2017-18 $000s

Actual 2016-17 $000s
Total Income 24 80423 994 23 334
Total Expenses 23 62923 569 22 736
Profit before Income Tax Equivalent Payments 1 175425 598
Income Tax Equivalent Payments 352127 179

During 2017/18, a dividend of $899,000 was paid (2016/17 $57,000).

The following items contributed to the favourable result as at 30 June 2018:

  • Revenue was 3.4% ($810 000) higher than budget. Favourable variances to budget of $548 000 investment revenue; management fees from Common Funds $206 000 and;
  • sundry income $202 000 offset by an unfavourable budget variance in fees and charges of $146 000.
  • Expenditure was 0.2% ($60 000) higher than budget. The slightly higher expenditure can be attributed to unbudgeted long service leave liabilities transferred from other agencies during the year.

Data for previous years is available at:

Other financial information

Customer Investments

2017-18 was a positive year for the Public Trustee’s investment strategies. All investment options had positive returns, with growth-orientated strategies performing particularly well. Investment strategies with a higher weighting to shares and unlisted assets, such as property and infrastructure were the best performers.

The Public Trustee’s investment returns ranged from 1.79% for Cash to 13.62% for Equities, net of fees. All Standard Investment Strategies outperformed their respective industry benchmarks over 1, 3 and 5 years. Five year returns stand at 2.33% for Cash to 11.84% for Equities, net of fees. The investment returns demonstrate that the long-term performance has been strong, stable and continues to exceed benchmarks.

During the financial year, the Public Trustee made new investments in specialist global small companies and emerging markets funds. These new investments will provide additional diversification benefits and are expected to generate capital growth over the long term.

Under the Public Corporations Act 1993, a Charter must be prepared for a Public Corporation and agreed between the Attorney-General and the Treasurer.

The Charter describes the reporting and accountability requirements and outlines objectives for invested customer funds, financial and other performance targets. It also sets out the responsibilities and the expectations of both the Public Trustee and the Government. The Charter is reviewed annually.