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How SAT handles Guardianship and Administration matters

How do I apply to SAT

Applying to SAT for a Guardianship and Administration matter is the same as for all other applications.

Guardianship and administration applications require medical reports to be attached If you require assistance finding or filling out the correct application form, please contact SAT.

Because appointment of a guardian involves taking away a person's fundamental decision-making rights, it is a course of action which is taken by SAT as a last resort - only after less restrictive measures of assuring the person's wellbeing and safety have been considered and found to be inadequate or unsuitable.

What happens after I apply?

Once SAT receives a valid application the hearing is booked and you are sent the details in the mail. Most guardianship and administration matters go straight to a final hearing, where a final decision can be made. However, if your matter is complex it may be listed for a directions hearing to discuss the best way to proceed.

The Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 requires a notice of hearing to be given to a range of persons, including any person who has a proper interest in the proceedings. This usually involves immediate family members - whose identity you have to provide to SAT when making your application.  Everyone is entitled to attend the hearing and can put forward their views about what is in the person's best interests.

Wherever possible, the person whose interests are being considered will be expected to state his or her own views and preferences.

What evidence will SAT look at and consider?

SAT considers the information in your application, and the views expressed at any hearing. SAT also considers other information and medical reports that have been submitted. For example, SAT may request a report from the Public Advocate, a social worker or a carer.

There are also principles to be observed by SAT:

  • its primary concern must be the best interests of the person whom the application is about;
  • every person is presumed capable of making decisions for themselves until the contrary is proved to SAT’s satisfaction;
  • a guardianship or administration order must not be made if there is a less restrictive means of meeting the person’s needs;
  • orders must impose the least possible restrictions on the person’s freedom of decision and action; and
  • SAT must seek to ascertain, as far as possible, the views and wishes of the person concerned.

What happens after SAT considers the information?

After considering all information SAT determines the following questions where relevant:

  • the impact of the disability on the person's ability to manage their own life and the extent to which they are capable of managing their own affairs;
  • whether the person is in need of a guardian or administrator;
  • whether appointment of a guardian and/or administrator is in the best interests of the person;
  • who is the most suitable person or agency to take on the role of guardian or administrator;
  • whether a guardian or administrator should make decisions or representations relating to specific areas (a Limited Order) or in all matters (Plenary Order);
  • how long the order should remain in force before it is reviewed; and
  • whether the person is capable of voting at parliamentary elections.

Decisions and reasons are usually given orally at the end of a hearing.

Sometimes SAT will reserve its decision, in which case it will give written reasons for its decision. If SAT reserves its decision it must give its reasons within 90 days or such longer period as the President allows.

Any party may ask for written reasons. A request must be made within 28 days after the decision is given. SAT must give written reasons within 90 days of the request or such longer period as the President allows.

What are plenary and limited appointments?

A plenary appointment allows a guardian or administrator to make all the decisions and perform all the functions that the represented person could themselves if they did not have a disability. A limited appointment allows a guardian or administrator to make only the decisions or perform only the functions specified in the order. A plenary guardian will not be appointed if a limited guardian would be sufficient to meet the person's needs.

Reviews of orders

SAT is required to review each order within five years. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a review may be conducted sooner.

If an appointed guardian is no longer available to fulfil their responsibilities to the person they represent, an application can be made to SAT for a new guardian to be appointed.

The powers of a guardian cease upon the death of the person they represent.

Any person who has an interest in the needs of the person with the decision-making disability can request that SAT review the order.

If the issues are resolved and there is no longer a need for the order, SAT may revoke the order or if someone is concerned that a guardian is not acting in the person's best interests, SAT can appoint another guardian.

A review will be conducted by SAT if the guardian:

  • dies
  • wishes to be discharged from their responsibilities
  • is no longer able to fulfil their responsibilities to the person with the decision-making disability because of physical or mental incapacity
  • is found to have been guilty of neglect or misconduct in relation to the person with the decision-making disability.

If there are concerns about the changing needs of the represented person and/or the capacity of the guardian or administrator to meet the needs, the represented person, guardian or administrator can apply to SAT for a review. Other interested parties can apply for leave to apply for a review. See Applying to SAT for information on how to apply.

At a review, SAT will determine whether a guardian or administrator is still necessary and if so, whether the terms of the original order need to be amended.

Is there a different process for sterilisation procedures?

The Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 requires the consent of SAT before a sterilisation procedure is carried out involving any person over the age of 18 years who has decision-making disability. There is more information on the Sterilisation Procedures page.

To carry out a sterilisation procedure contrary to these legal provisions is a criminal offence.

Can I appeal a Guardianship and Administration decision?

Some guardianship and administration decisions can be appealed.

If the hearing was conducted by one SAT member, an application can be made for a review by the full tribunal.

If the decision was made by a three-member Tribunal, an appeal may be made to the Supreme Court in the following circumstances.

  • SAT made an error of law and/or fact;
  • SAT acted outside its jurisdiction; or
  • There is some other reason sufficient to justify an appeal.

Further information

If you have any questions please contact SAT.

Last updated: 19-Dec-2013

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