General administrator information

    What is impaired decision making capacity?

    Impaired decision making capacity is the inability to go through the process of reaching a decision and putting it into effect. There are three elements to making a decision:

    • understanding the nature and effect of the decision
    • freely and voluntarily making a decision
    • communicating the decision in some way.

    If an adult is unable to carry out any part of this process for decision making, the adult is said to have impaired decision making capacity. Impaired decision making capacity is not ignorance, eccentricity, different ethical views, cultural diversity, poor communication, poor judgement or poor decision making.

    It is important to note that all adults who are the subject of an application before QCAT are presumed to have capacity until QCAT determines otherwise.

    What is capacity for a matter?

    The Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 refers to capacity for a "matter". This means an adult may have capacity for decision making in some areas but not in others. For example, an adult may have capacity to make decisions of a personal nature such as health care but not have capacity to manage some or all of their financial affairs. In this example, QCAT would take the least restrictive option and appoint an administrator to make financial decisions only.

    What happens if the appointment is urgent?

    QCAT has the power to grant interim decisions as an emergency measure when immediate action is required to protect an adult  that has, or may have, impaired decision making capacity from the immediate risk of harm to their health, welfare or property because of abuse, exploitation, neglect  or self-neglect.

    QCAT can make an interim decision without a hearing and then conduct the final hearing at a later date. Interim orders are only made in exceptional circumstances and can be made up to three months.

    Can a complaint be made about an administrator?

    If you have the appropriate facts to support a complaint against an administrator, you can lodge an application for review of an administrator with QCAT to address the matter. QCAT can suspend the administrator's powers for three months in appropriate circumstances.

    If an administrator is suspended, the Public Trustee of Queensland is automatically appointed temporary administrator for the period of the suspension.

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    Can QCAT review an appointed administrator?

    There are three different administrator appointment reviews that can be conducted. They include:

    • requested reviews
    • periodic reviews
    • QCAT-initiated reviews.

    An in-person or on-the-papers (submission based) hearing is held which gives interested parties an opportunity to put forward their views in writing about the actions of an administrator as well as any new or relevant information about the adult's circumstances that may affect the appointment.

    Anyone with an interest in the matter can request a review at any time including a guardian, administrator, family member, the Public Guardian, the Public Trustee of Queensland or the adult concerned.

    Can I apply for a stay of a decision that someone is making for an adult with impaired decision making capacity?

    You can submit an application for a stay of a decision. This temporarily stops the decision being made until the final hearing. You can only apply if:

    • QCAT has accepted an application about a decision for the adult but the hearing has not been held, and
    • a situation arises where the proposed administrator is called to make a decision for the adult that may be beyond their capacity to make, or
    • where there is a dispute about the decision.

    Where can I find advice about becoming an administrator?

    The Public Trustee of Queensland has a range of resources to help administrators.

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    What happens if there is a disagreement between an adult's administrator/s and other people involved in making decisions for the adult?

    If the adult has a guardian appointed or a statutory health attorney, the administrator should consult that person about major financial decisions which are likely to affect the lifestyle or health of the adult.

    Where there is more than one administrator appointed, all administrators should work closely together to make sure the best interests of the adult are protected. Disputes or disagreements between guardians, administrators or attorneys can occur. The Public Guardian may also offer mediation to help resolve the disagreement. The Public Guardian can be contacted at:

    Office of the Public Guardian

    If mediation fails to resolve a disagreement about a health matter, the Public Guardian has the authority to make the decision but must advise QCAT of the details of the decision made. All parties should work closely together to ensure the best interests of the adult.

    If agreement cannot be reached, an application may be made to QCAT for a review of the administrator at which all issues can be heard.

    Do professional administrators or trustees charge fees to manage finances?

    There are fees and charges associated with professional administrators’ management services. It is recommended you obtain an estimate of fees from a professional administrator, the Public Trustee of Queensland or a trustee company.

    Important note: Private individuals appointed as administrators cannot charge for their services or time.

    Do professional administrators and private trustee companies have similar responsibilities and duties?

    All QCAT-appointed administrators have similar responsibilities and duties.

    Descriptions of QCAT's jurisdiction on this website are general information only. They do not definitively describe the types of applications on which QCAT can make decisions. The relevant legislation determines QCAT's jurisdiction. If you are unsure about your legal rights, you should seek legal advice. Your individual circumstances should guide any actions taken to resolve your dispute.