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What is a guardian


A guardian is a person appointed to make legally valid decisions on behalf of a person with a disability who is unable to make decisions on their own or without support. In NSW this occurs under the Guardianship Act 1987.

A guardian can be appointed by the Guardianship Tribunal or by a legal process known as enduring guardianship.

A guardian will usually be authorised to make decisions on behalf of another person in specific areas of a persons life and for a certain length of time. In guardianship an area of decision making authority is called a function.

Guardians are appointed to make health and welfare decisions on behalf of the person under guardianship. These might include decisions about where to live, what services to use, or to consider consenting to medical and dental treatment. A guardian cannot make decisions about financial matters or a person's estate unless they have been authorised under an enduring power of attorney or they have been legally appointed to be the person's financial manager. The Public Guardian can never be a financial manager.

In guardianship appointments made by the Guardianship Tribunal, anyone can apply to become a guardian. The tribunal will consider appointing a family member or a friend or unpaid carer of the person, someone who is willing to make decisions in the best interests of the person with a disability. When there is no private person who can be appointed the tribunal will appoint the Public Guardian as the 'guardian of last resort'.



Why guardianship?    

Guardianship provides a bridge between recognising a person's status as an adult and recognising that a person may not be able to assume the rights and responsibilities associated with that status. Guardianship enables personal and health decisions to be made on behalf of an adult with a decision-making disability.

Need more information?

If you want more information about guardianship and the role of the Public Guardian have a look at our publications.