To the Honourable Kyam Joseph Maher MLC
- Attorney - General
- Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
- Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector
This annual report will be presented to Parliament to meet the statutory reporting requirements of the Public Trustee Act 1995 and the Public Sector Act 2009 and the requirements of Premier and Cabinet Circular PC013 Annual Reporting.
This report is verified to be accurate for the purposes of annual reporting to the Parliament of South Australia.
Submitted on behalf of the Public Trustee by:
20 September 2022
The Public Trustee’s purpose is to provide financial and administrative services to eligible South Australians, to help those that cannot manage their own affairs and those who have trusted the organisation to assist them.
The Public Trustee Strategic Plan for 2022-25 outlines that the core objectives of the organisation are to provide a positive customer experience, improve the way our services are delivered, ensure appropriate governance and financial sustainability and the people that are delivering that service are supported and accountable. The continued focus has, and will be, on wellbeing, workforce planning, training, recognition and improving the customer experience. The Strategic Plan provides a new mission statement for the Public Trustee, which is the result of consultation with all employees: “We protect the wishes and interests of those we serve”.
The Public Advocate and the Public Trustee continue to share a significant number of customers. They are people under both guardianship and administration orders made by the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and are some of the most vulnerable people in the South Australian community. During 2021-22, the Office of the Public Advocate and the Public Trustee strengthened processes for information sharing to deliver more coordinated services and to increase safeguarding of their shared customers. This is further reflected in the Office of the Public Advocate’s involvement in the Public Trustee’s annual Employee Recognition event.
In conjunction with the Department of Human Services (DHS) the Public Trustee and the Office of the Public Advocate have been working on an information sharing agreement with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), to facilitate data matching to identify joint National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) customers that have high level access to plan services and funding. This will enable the Public Trustee to have visibility of NDIS funding so that customer funds continue to be applied in their best interests.
The Public Trustee has also been working with the Department for Correctional Services to improve the sharing of information regarding customers entering or leaving periods of incarceration. This is designed to improve the timeliness of adjusting customer benefits payments and also enable quicker access to funding when customers are released. Consultation has also occurred with the Fines Enforcement and Recovery Unit (FERU) to proactively resolve debts for mutual customers who are vulnerable or in financial hardship.
The Public Trustee has continued to provide its full range of services to customers throughout the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has occurred through continued use of working from home arrangements, social distancing and technical tools such as video conferencing in accordance with the health advice at the time.
The Public Trustee received funding of $3 million in the November 2020 State Budget to replace the aged and unsupported PeopleSoft Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. The replacement project commenced in May 2021, and the new system will be implemented in September 2022 following the completion of financial year end processes.
In addition, the Public Trustee has received further funding of $5.5 million to replace the aged and unsupported PeopleSoft Customer Financial System. Following the completion of procurement processes and initial planning by the successful vendor, work is anticipated to commence in March 2023 for delivery in the 2024-25 Financial Year.
The operations of the Public Trustee have been improved in 2021-22 by:
- Developing a welcome pack for new personal financial administration customers to outline what to expect, how to apply to revoke an administration order, an explanation of fees and charges and simple case studies to help people understand the administration process.
- Implementing a policy that fees charged to customers for investments in the Cash Common Fund could not exceed investment returns. This ensured customer fund balances would not reduce as the extremely low interest rate environment meant that there would have been negative returns to customers if the standard management fee was charged.
- Developing a business case for the replacement of the existing legacy customer financial system.
- Strengthening the organisation’s funds administration function by improving the way in which we manage superannuation investments.
- Implementing an automated unit pricing process to streamline pricing processes and eliminate manual processes.
- Implementing a new website with greater community useability, compliance with accessibility standards and improved cyber security measures.
- Collaborating with DHS to progress a combined procurement for customer Funeral Services.
- Improving the funds administration system through the implementation of a new taxation module.
Our 2021-22 Customer Satisfaction Survey introduced a Net Promoter Score (NPS). Personal Estate representatives returned a positive NPS score, meaning that they are classified as ‘Promoters’, that is, are actively talking positively about their experience with the Public Trustee.
The Public Trustee experienced a 49% decrease in the number of public complaints received during 2021-22.
The Public Trustee’s profit for 2021-22 was $5.5 million. This is $2 million below budget primarily due to low interest rates and unfavourable returns associated with market volatility in 2021-2022.
About the agency
We are flexible, responsive and empathetic in supporting our customers and our employees.
Proudly serve the community and Government of South Australia
- Provide friendly, timely, knowledgeable and accurate information to customers.
- Explain things in an easy to understand and jargon-free way.
- Show empathy and put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
Strive for excellence
- Provide relevant and timely responses to requests.
- Follow through on priorities, and care about your work.
- Encourage ongoing learning to maintain and update knowledge.
We have confidence in the ability of others
- Trust the team to do the right thing.
- Empower and encourage others to participate in decision making.
We value every individual
- Be polite, listen to opinions, and provide feedback.
- Treat everyone with dignity.
Collaboration and Engagement
We create solutions together
- Consult, genuinely listen to and consider people's views.
- Work together to solve problems.
Our functions, objectives and deliverables
The Public Trustee’s Strategic Plan includes the following objectives:
Valued and trusted staff are supported and accountable for delivering outcomes.
Responsive, consistent, timely service which shows empathy and respect.
Technology-enabled Business Improvement
A modern, flexible workplace underpinned by fit-for-purpose systems.
Governance & Financial Sustainability
Effective risk management drives accountability and performance.
From 1 July 2021 new fees were implemented in accordance with Parliamentary approval including an increase in the management fees on growth Common Funds and the introduction of a new examination fee for Court appointed financial managers that rectified an inconsistency with the fees charged for SACAT appointed financial administrators.
During 2021-22 Public Trustee implemented a policy that fees charged to customers for investments in the Cash Common Fund could not exceed investment returns. This ensured customer fund balances would not reduce due to the extremely low interest rate environment.
The Hon Kyam Maher MLC, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector is the state’s principal legal advisor to the government and is responsible for exercising certain powers and regulating and administering a range of legislation.
The Attorney-General is a member of Cabinet and is responsible for:
- specific legislation and the state's legal system
- developing and implementing policy
- legal action relevant to the state government.
On 24 March 2022, the Attorney-General also became responsible for the Aboriginal Affairs and Industrial Relations and Public Sector Ministerial Portfolios.
The Public Trustee
The Public Trustee is responsible to the Attorney-General for the efficient management of the Public Trustee Office and the effective implementation of the Public Trustee Act 1995. The role encompasses acting as administrator, executor or trustee of deceased estates, as administrator or manager of estates of protected persons and as attorney or agent. The Public Trustee is also the trustee for minors as a result of distributions in intestate estates administered by private administrators and by appointment as trustee for other trusts and Wills.
Chief Operating Officer
The Chief Operating Officer oversees a comprehensive range of business and support services including ICT systems, corporate financial and administrative services, procurement and risk management. The role is also responsible for financial services for customers including financial management and reporting, accounts payable and receivable, investment funds management and taxation and superannuation services.
General Manager Customer Services
The General Manager, Customer Services ensures the delivery of high quality deceased estate, trust, financial administration, Will-making and litigation guardian services. The role provides high level leadership to develop and implement business reform strategies to enhance the customer’s experience and create a positive service focused culture.
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, Public Trustee services are delivered 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 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) who appoint the Public Trustee to administer the personal financial and/or legal affairs of people who are unable to manage their own affairs. 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.