The NSW Law Reform Commission is reviewing and reporting on The Guardianship Act 1987 (NSW). The Attorney General have asked the Commission to see if the laws in NSW on Guardianship need to change.
The Guardianship Act allows people who are not able to make decisions for themselves to appoint someone to make these decisions for them. The person who can make decisions for someone else is called a ‘guardian’. Currently, the Act defines a “person in need of a guardian” as a person who, because of a disability, is totally or partially incapable of managing his or her person. Under the Guardianship Act, someone who may lose their decision-making capacity in the future is also able to appoint a decision-maker in advance.
Why the Guardianship Act needs to change
A reason why the current Guardianship Act might need to change is that since it was developed, the characteristics of people who might need to appoint decision-makers have changed. While it used to involve mostly people with intellectual disabilities, today 44% of the people involved require guardianship due to dementia, and many others have mental illness or brain injuries.
BEING wrote a preliminary submission in March this year about why the Act needs to be changed. We wrote about:
- focusing on decision-making capacity rather than disability,
- helping people manage fluctuating capacity, and
- supporting people to make their own decisions
What the NSW Law Reform Commission is doing now
The Commission has looked at all the preliminary submissions people sent in and released the first consultation package on 30 June 2016. They plan to release a number of other consultation packages and they are inviting people’s input between now and the end of 2016.
Here are the links to the materials in the Commission’s first consultation package about the Guardianship Act. You can real about the background information in full. There is also an easy English and a video version. The Background paper does not ask any specific questions; rather it is a resource for people to refer to when considering the different issues.
- Full version – Background Paper: Review of the Guardianship Act 1987 (full version)
- Easy English – Background Paper: Review of the Guardianship Act 1987 – Easy English
- Video version – Review of the Guardianship Act 1987
You can share your experiences and opinions of the Guardianship System in two ways:
- Fill out the Commission’s easy-to-answer survey – click here for the survey.
- Write and send a submission to the Commission – click here for information on how to make a submission to this review.
Further consultation packages
Here is more information from the NSW Law Reform Commission about how people can contribute to their review of the Guardianship Act in NSW.
Between now and the end of the year the NSW Law Reform Commission will be releasing a number of further consultation packages and inviting submissions.
Each consultation package will contain:
- One or more Question Paper
- An Easy English copy of each Question Paper
- An easy-to-answer survey, and
- videos that will be available on YouTube
The question papers will be on the following topics:
- Question Paper 1: Conditions for alternative decision-making arrangements
- Question Paper 2: Decision-making models
- Question Paper 3: Supporters and decision-makers: appointment, powers, responsibilities and accountability (including, under current arrangements, enduring guardians, guardianship orders, persons responsible, financial managers and informal decision-making arrangements)
- Question Paper 4: NCAT and key agencies (including the operation of the Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal, the NSW Public Guardian, the NSW Trustee and Guardian, and the case for a Public Advocate)
- Question Paper 5: Medical and dental treatment and restrictive practices
- Question Paper 6: Miscellaneous (terminology and other amendments to the Guardianship Act 1987)
You can use each Question Paper or the video to guide your submissions. You can also complete their easy-to-answer surveys to share your views, instead of or in addition to making a formal submission.