General principles of the Act

The Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 aims to balance the right of an adult with to maintain decision-making independence with their right to adequate and appropriate decision-making support.

To achieve this balance, a range of general principles are to be applied by administrators. These include:

  • presumption of capacity: adults are presumed to have the capacity to make their own decisions unless it is established they are unable to do so
  • human rights: regardless of decision-making capacity, everyone has the same basic rights including the protection of individual liberty and access to services. Decision-makers must recognise the importance of encouraging the adult to exercise their rights
  • individual value: each person is valued as an individual and their human worth and dignity is respected
  • valued social role: an adult’s right to be a valued member of society is recognised, as is the importance of encouraging and supporting them in social roles such as home owner, bank customer, investor, shopper, worker or volunteer
  • participation in community life: the adult should be encouraged and supported to live life in the general community and to take part in general community activities
  • encouraging self-reliance: the adult should be encouraged and supported to achieve their maximum physical, social, emotional and intellectual potential, and to become as self-reliant as possible
  • least restrictive option: anyone performing a function or exercising a power under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 must apply the least restrictive option that is consistent with the adult’s proper care and protection. This also means:
    • maximum participation in decision-making - the adult has the right to participate, to the best of their ability, in the decisions affecting their life. This involves giving the adult any necessary support and access to information so they can participate in such decisions. It also includes seeking and taking into account the adult's views and wishes, whether they are expressed orally, in writing, or through interpreters or other ways of communicating
    • substituted judgement - if it is possible to work out from the adult's previous actions what their views and wishes would be, then these must be taken into account in any decision made
  • maintenance of existing supportive relationships: decision-makers must recognise the importance of maintaining the adult’s existing supportive relationships
  • maintenance of environment and values: decision-makers must recognise the importance of maintaining the adult’s cultural and linguistic environment including any religious beliefs and lifestyle choices
  • appropriate assistance: the help given to the adult in a particular situation must meet their current needs and be adapted to their individual characteristics
  • confidentiality: decision-makers must recognise the adult’s right to confidentiality about personal information.