We all have the rights and power to make personal decisions for ourselves. Some of us may struggle with making day-to-day personal decisions, especially if a medical condition limits our ability to do so. This is where appointing a guardian can help.
What is a legal guardian?
A legal guardian is a person appointed by VCAT and given the power to make personal decisions on someone’s behalf. These decisions can range from where a person lives, their healthcare, and access to services.
Where a person’s preferences are known, the guardian is required to carry out those wishes. However, the guardian is not bound by the person’s decisions if it could cause them serious harm.
A guardian’s role can also be viewed as ‘supportive’ as they must consult the person when making a decision that could affect them.
Are there different types of orders?
Yes. Depending on what suits the situation best, there are two types of orders.
Supportive Guardianship Order
If VCAT decides a person can make personal decisions with the proper support, then appointing a supportive guardian would be appropriate.
A supportive guardian cannot make decisions on the person’s behalf. The role of a supportive guardian would be to support the person in making and carry out that person’s decision.
Unlike a supportive guardianship order, a guardianship order is where VCAT appoints a guardian to make decisions about personal matters for a person. These decisions can vary from where a person lives, what healthcare and support services a person receives and where a person works.
How do I apply for a guardianship order?
The process is relatively simple. An online application is made by the applicant (the person seeking to be appointed as guardian) with VCAT. The application would detail:
- the disability of the person you are seeking to be a guardian for
- how their disability impairs their ability to decide about their personal matters, and
- the reasons for appointing a guardian either to support or to make decisions on behalf of the person.
Who can apply for a guardianship order?
Any person over the age of 18 can apply for a guardianship order for a person. This is usually a relative or friend of the person.
If a suitable person cannot be identified, VCAT may appoint an independent decision-maker, such as a the Public Advocate.
Can I have a guardian replaced?
If you are a person who has been appointed a guardian, you may request a re-assessment hearing from VCAT. At the hearing, you can ask for a different guardian or have the guardianship order cancelled.