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The Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 provides for the appointment of guardians to safeguard the best interests of adults with decision-making disabilities. These disabilities may be as a result of:

  • intellectual disability
  • mental illness
  • acquired brain injury
  • dementia.

The legislation gives the State Administrative Tribunal legal powers to appoint guardians. It also gives adults with full legal capacity the power to appoint enduring guardians.

For more information on enduring guardians, see the Enduring Power of Guardianship page.

Guardians appointed by the State Administrative Tribunal

A person with a decision-making disability may require a guardian when personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions need to be made in their best interests.

The legislation seeks to balance the rights of individuals to make decisions for themselves with the need to legally protect people from abuse and exploitation and to ensure informed decisions are made in their best interests.

The appointment of a guardian is a legal way of giving a responsible person authority to make decisions on behalf of the person they represent.

A guardian may be a close friend or family member of the represented person. In the absence of these, the Public Advocate may be appointed by the Tribunal. A guardian from the Office of the Public Advocate will then work with the represented person.

Guardianship may be considered as an option when there is:

  • a need for somebody with legal authority to make decisions in the best interests of a person with a decision-making disability
  • unresolved conflict between family members and/or primary care providers about the person's best interests
  • concern that the person may be at risk of neglect, exploitation or abuse.

The appointment of a guardian is not necessary when informal arrangements can ensure the best interests of the person with a decision-making disability are being met. For example, appointment of a substitute decision-maker is not needed when:

  • a person with a decision-making disability is able to manage and maintain a reasonable quality of life for themselves
  • an enduring guardian has been appointed, who is acting in the best interests of the person
  • the person is being adequately supported and cared for by others
  • there are no personal or family conflicts about the person's care and support needs
  • there are no major problems or issues that are posing an immediate or imminent threat to the person's quality of life.

Private Guardian's Guide

If you are considering nominating to be appointed as a private guardian for a family member or friend, or if you have been appointed as a private guardian, this guide works through a range of information relating to the role. See the Private Guardian’s Guide.

Community Guardianship Program

For information on volunteering as a community guardian see the Community guardianship page.

Last updated: 9-Dec-2021

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