In most cases, the estimated 65,000 people who have decision-making disabilities in Western Australia have family or friends to make decisions in their best interests. Community guardians fulfil a similar role for those who have no-one suitable in their lives to advocate for their rights or make decisions on their behalf.
The Office of the Public Advocate recruits, trains and supports volunteers who are appointed as community guardians to act in the best interests of a person in need of a guardian.
Western Australia was the first state to appoint a volunteer as a guardian for a person with a decision-making disability.
Since its launch in 2005, the program has made a profound difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
The Office of the Public Advocate provides training for community volunteers before matching them with a suitable client over a period of months. When a relationship has been established and shown to be successful for 6-12 months, the Public Advocate makes an application to the State Administrative Tribunal for the volunteer to be appointed the person's guardian.
The community guardian makes informed decisions in the person's best interests. Decisions may relate to consenting to medical treatment or dental work, improving the person's lifestyle and well-being and meeting their accommodation and support needs. Community guardians do not have the authority to control a person's finances.
All volunteers receive ongoing support through training, social events and a newsletter. They can call the Office of the Public Advocate for additional advice if needed.
The Office continues to offer support to community guardians once they are appointed by the Tribunal.
Last updated: 31-Aug-2016
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