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Decision making support

There is increasing recognition that the adult guardianship system’s focus on substitute decision-making must shift to the supports that should be provided to enable people to make decisions for themselves and exercise their legal capacity.

The concept of supporting people to make their own decisions is not new. We all need assistance at times to make decisions, whether those decisions are about our health, where we live, or what we buy.

Since Australia ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, there have been many reports, from authors including the Australian Law Reform Commission, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability and the National Disability Insurance Agency, all recommending that Australia implement legislative, policy and procedural reforms to facilitate a reduction in the use of substitute decision makers in favour of people being supported to make their own decisions.

The Public Advocate has completed a variety of work to promote supported decision making for people with impaired decision making ability, including;

  • Expanding Horizons: Examples of Supported Decision Making in Queensland – a 2024 publication telling the story of the way a number of Queensland agencies are bringing to life supported decision-making in practice
  • Promoting the rights of people with impaired decision-making ability to be supported to make their own decisions in various submissions to government agencies considering reforms
  • In 2020, input into amendments to the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000, which now includes:
    • Redrafting the general principles and the health care principles to be more consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
    • Relocating the general principles and the health care principles to the beginning of the Act to highlight the new principled approach and to encourage the exercise of functions and powers under the Act to be more consistent with human rights and contemporary practice;
    • Clarifying that a person making a decision for an adult on an informal basis must apply the general principles; and,
    • Clarifying that the general principles should be applied whenever a person or entity performs a function or power under the Act, not just in relation to an adult with impaired capacity
  • A 2016 report, tabled in the Queensland Parliament, Decision-making support and Queensland’s guardianship system (PDF, 2.3 MB).
    • This report was underpinned by four documents published by the Public Advocate which are available here .