On Thursday 8 July 2021, the Western Australian Ombudsman and President of the International Ombudsman Institute released his investigation report, An investigation into the Office of the Public Advocate’s role in notifying the families of Mrs Joyce Savage, Mr Robert Ayling and Mr Kenneth Hartley of the deaths of Mrs Savage, Mr Ayling and Mr Hartley.
The report arose following a request to the Ombudsman, on 2 March 2021, by the Honourable John Quigley MLA, Attorney General of Western Australia, to investigate the Office of the Public Advocate’s (OPA) role in notifying the family of Mrs Joyce Savage of the death of Mrs Savage. The Attorney General also requested that the Ombudsman include in his investigation the circumstances of OPA’s notification to the families of Mr Robert Ayling and Mr Kenneth Hartley of the deaths of Mr Ayling and Mr Hartley.
On the same day, in accordance with section 16(1) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1971, the Ombudsman initiated an investigation into OPA’s role in notifying the families of Mrs Joyce Savage, Mr Robert Ayling and Mr Kenneth Hartley of the deaths of Mrs Savage, Mr Ayling and Mr Hartley (the Investigation).
Mrs Savage’s daughter, Ms Kaye Davis, Mr Ayling’s son, (also named) Mr Robert Ayling and Mr Hartley’s brother, Mr Phillip Hartley, were contacted as part of the Investigation and each made themselves available during the Investigation to talk about their experiences and views. These experiences and views have informed this report of the Investigation (the Report) and it the Ombudsman’s hope that the Report can, in turn, provide information to Ms Davis, Mr Ayling and Mr Hartley that is of assistance to them.
Western Australian Ombudsman Chris Field said:
“I express my sincerest condolences to the families on the passing of Mrs Savage, Mr Ayling and Mr Hartley.”
“A person for whom OPA has been appointed as their guardian is a ‘represented person’. This was the case for Mrs Savage, Mr Ayling and Mr Hartley. Each was a represented person. But Mrs Savage, Mr Ayling and Mr Hartley were more than represented people. Each led a long life, was a family member and a contributor to their communities. Any delay in notifying a family of the death of a family member will, of course, be upsetting for a family. Further, the delay does not give the dignity to the person’s passing that they should, and must, be afforded.”
“As a result of the Investigation, I have formed a number of opinions regarding OPA’s role in notifying the families of Mrs Joyce Savage, Mr Robert Ayling and Mr Kenneth Hartley of the deaths of Mrs Savage, Mr Ayling and Mr Hartley.”
“Arising from these opinions, I have made seven recommendations to OPA. “I am very pleased that OPA has agreed to all seven recommendations. I will actively monitor the steps taken by OPA to give effect to my recommendations. In my view, these seven recommendations, when implemented, will be responsive to the families of Mrs Savage, Mr Ayling and Mr Hartley, but also ensure that in the future OPA does, without delay, notify family upon the death of a loved one.”
Source: Office of the Western Australia Ombudsman