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Guardianship is the appointment of a person (a ‘guardian’) to make decisions for an adult with a disability (the ‘represented person’) when they are unable to do so.
All adults over the age of 18 years, regardless of disability, are entitled to make their own decisions. This is the case unless, when they were competent, they appointed a person to be their guardian under the enduring power of guardianship and have now lost capacity to make the types of decisions they appointed the enduring guardian to make for them.
Alternatively, a guardianship order can be obtained by making an application for guardianship to the Guardianship List of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT then hears the matter and, if necessary, appoints a guardian to make specific types of decisions.
The guardian makes decisions about the represented person’s lifestyle, such as where they live and who can have access to them, according to the terms of the order. The guardian’s decisions have the same legal force as if the person had made them themselves.
Guardianship is a vital way to protect and promote the rights and interests of people who cannot make their own decisions. Where there is no suitable family member or friend who can act as guardian, VCAT can appoint the Public Advocate as an independent statutory guardian. In some cases the Public Advocate delegates the role to a community guardian.
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