Understanding capacity

The law presumes everyone has capacity to make their own decisions. You cannot assume someone has impaired decision-making capacity without sufficient evidence.

Under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000, ‘capacity’ is the ability to:

  • understand the nature and effect of decisions about a matter
  • freely and voluntarily make decisions about the matter, and
  • communicate the decisions in some way.

Just because someone has impaired decision-making capacity doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t make any decisions. Many people with impaired decision-making capacity can be supported to make decisions for themselves. The law states that people with impaired decision-making capacity have a right to adequate and appropriate support in decision-making.