Information for guardians - Office of the Public Guardian

Information for guardians

At some point in your life, you may have to make decisions on behalf of an adult with impaired decision-making capacity. This is a significant responsibility.

The Guardianship Information Service—a free service provided by the Office of the Public Guardian—can help.

We can’t tell you what decisions you should make, but we can help you understand your role as substitute decision-maker, the process and the legislative requirements you must abide by.

The Guardianship Information Service can provide information about:

  • the rights, responsibilities and legal requirements as an appointed guardian or informal decision-maker
  • the role and authority of a guardian
  • good decision-making practices.

The Guardianship Information Service is not a watchdog for decision-makers; it does not supervise or monitor the actions or decisions of guardians, or make decisions for an adult with impaired decision-making capacity.

What is a substitute decision-maker?

A substitute decision-maker is able to make decisions on behalf of an adult with impaired decision-making capacity.

Substitute decision-makers can include:

  • an appointed guardian—appointed by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT). This can be a private guardian (family or friend), or the Public Guardian as last resort
  • an informal decision-maker—from the adult's support network (such as a family member or friend)
  • a statutory health attorney (for health care related matters only)
  • an attorney under an Enduring Power of Attorney or Advance Health Directive.

What does an appointed guardian need to know?

The role of a guardian appointed by QCAT is different from the role of an informal decision-maker.

If you have been appointed by QCAT, you are in a legally appointed position and all actions and decisions you make on behalf of the person for whom you have been appointed guardian are accountable to QCAT.

There are a number of matters you, as a guardian, need to consider to be able to make decisions for the person.

These include the General Principles and/or the Health Care Principle which are detailed in the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000.

What are restrictive practices?

In certain cases if an adult displays challenging behaviours that could cause harm to themselves or to others, a guardian can be appointed by QCAT with special responsibilities to help manage these behaviours.

The appointed guardian will need to consider the use of a Positive Behaviour Support Plan which could include a range of ‘restrictive practices’ including:

  • containment and seclusion
  • chemical (medication), physical or mechanical restraint
  • restrictive access.

There are also a number of factors that restrictive practice guardians must consider, but these vary with each individual. These can include:

  • Positive Behaviour Support Plans
  • appropriate assessments
  • seeking specialist medical advice
  • compliance with legislation.

If you have been appointed as a private guardian for restrictive matters and require additional information please call us on 1300 447 624 (calls from landlines charged at local call rates outside Brisbane).

Information for health care decision-makers

If you need to make a health care decision for someone else there are a number of things you must consider.

Find out about making health care decisions for someone with impaired decision-making capacity.