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Capacity and the Public Guardian

The Guardianship Division of NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal may appoint a private guardian or the Public Guardian to be the substitute decision maker for a person who lacks capacity.

The Public Guardian promotes a 'decision-specific approach' to decision-making and capacity. If the Public Guardian considers, based on the evidence available, that a person under guardianship is able to make a particular decision, the Public Guardian will support the person's decision. Where appropriate the Public Guardian may also advocate for a formal capacity assessment.

An example case study

Mary is an older woman in the early stages of dementia. The Public Guardian has been appointed as Mary's guardian with the authority to make decisions about her services and medical and dental consent. Mary has little insight into her care needs and so the Public Guardian makes decisions on her behalf regarding the services she receives at home. Mary's doctor informs the Public Guardian that Mary is able to understand and consent to the flu vaccination treatment that she has prescribed. Therefore the Public Guardian does not need to provide consent on Mary's behalf.