The new Guardianship and Administration Act 2019, which came into effect on 1 March 2020, changes the way Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) appoints guardians and administrators for persons with diminished decision-making capacity.
The key changes include:
- empowering VCAT to appoint supportive decision makers (for personal or financial matters) if the proposed represented person would benefit from assistance in making some types of decisions but they don’t actually need a substitute decision maker
- VCAT and any appointed decision maker must take into account the ‘will and preferences’ of the represented person as far as practicable (rather than the best interests)
- VCAT must take into account whether any orders for guardianship/administration will promote the personal and social wellbeing of the person
- VCAT must consider whether decisions can be made in a less formal way (for example, by mediation)
- VCAT must not exclude a proposed represented person’s relative as a guardian or administrator simply because that person disagrees with another relative of the person
- the wishes of any person with a direct interest in the application must be considered (and relationships that are important to the represented person).
We thought it might be useful to highlight how the new Act might change outcomes for older people in a particular fact scenario in a case study below.