What a welfare guardian does
The Family Court can appoint a welfare guardian by making a Welfare Guardian Order for anyone who is 18 or older.
A welfare guardian can also be appointed for a 16-year-old or 17-year-old if:
- the person is or has been married, or in a civil union or de facto relationship, or
- the person has no living parents or guardians, or
- no parent or guardian is in regular contact with the person and the court thinks a welfare guardian would help them.
Welfare guardians can also be appointed if other kinds of Personal Orders are not carried out – for example, an Order to give someone specified medical treatment.
What a welfare guardian can and can’t do
The Welfare Guardian Order will list the areas a welfare guardian can make decisions about on behalf of the other person.
When making and carrying out decisions, the welfare guardian must:
- support and protect the welfare and best interest of the person they’re acting for
- encourage the person to develop and use any skills they have
- encourage the person to act in their own interest wherever possible
- help the person to be a part of the community, as much as possible
- talk with the person, and other people who are interested in and able to advise on the personal care and welfare of that person, including any voluntary welfare agency
- consult with the property manager if the person has a Property Order.
A welfare guardian can’t:
- make any decision about a marriage or civil union (including separation/divorce) for the person they’re helping
- make any decision about the adoption of any child of the person
- stop the person getting any standard medical treatment or procedure intended to save the person's life or to prevent serious damage to the person's health
- allow the person to have electro-convulsive treatment (this used to be called electro-shock therapy)
- agree to any surgery or other treatment designed to destroy any part of the brain or any brain function for the purpose of changing the person's behaviour
- allow that person to take part in any medical experiment other than one conducted to save the person's life or to prevent serious damage to their health.
If a welfare guardian needs help, they can ask the court for advice.
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