Guardianship

Legal Guardians

Generally, a legal guardian is someone who has the authority, as well as the obligation, to handle and care for the personal interests and properties of another individual. … In Australia, one way to appoint a guardian for the legal care of a child is through the use of a Will.

There are two types of orders:

  • a plenary guardianship order lets a guardian make decisions for a person like a parent would for a child
  • a limited guardianship order states exactly what decisions a guardian can make on behalf of a person. These decisions can include:
    • where you live
    • what medical, dental and other health care you receive (with some exceptions)
    • what support services you receive
    • where you work.

Role of a guardian

A guardian must make decisions that are in your best interests. A guardian will consult you when they make decisions that affect you. The law says they must:

  • protect you from abuse, exploitation and neglect
  • advocate on your behalf
  • encourage you to make your own decisions where possible
  • help you to become able to make your own decisions again.

A guardianship order does not give a guardian power to make decisions about your money. Your guardian must speak with you about the decisions they are making.

Applying for guardianship orders

If a person is concerned that you are having difficulty making reasonable decisions about lifestyle matters, they may ask the State Government authority (VCAT in Victoria)  to make an order. This could be a family member or a support worker.

The applicant fills in an application form about you. They must attach a report from a doctor or social worker that says:

  • you have a disability
  • your disability impairs your ability to make reasonable decisions about lifestyle matters,
  • you need a guardian to make those decisions for you.

The applicant must give you a copy of the form and the report.

Guardianship Law

Australian guardianship law is the key regulatory mechanism for protecting the health of young persons, adults with disabilities and the elderly, and yet it remains understudied and misunderstood as a body of knowledge. Australia has eight different guardianship regimes, which vary widely in their forms of regulation.

Australian guardianship law is the key regulatory mechanism for protecting the health of young persons, adults with disabilities and the elderly, and yet it remains understudied and misunderstood as a body of knowledge. Australia has eight different guardianship regimes, which vary widely in their forms of regulation.

Need more information?

Try the Australian Guardianship Law website