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 more than one welfare guardian has been appointed the law states you must regularly consult with each other.

If a welfare guardian needs help, they can ask the court for advice.

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