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Supported decision-making and guardianship - proposals for reform roundtable

  • Roundtables
Publication date

The Disability Royal Commission held two policy roundtables (31 May and 1 June 2022) on supported decision-making and guardianship. The roundtables brought together a range of stakeholders to discuss reform proposals and issues affecting the autonomy of people with disability.

The first roundtable focused on how a national policy and legislative framework for supported decision-making can be implemented as an alternative or complementary approach to substitute decision-making for people with disability. The second roundtable examined proposals for how supported decision-making could apply within the context of guardianship and administrative systems in Australia.

Participants discussed proposals for reform outlined in a background paper prepared by the Royal Commission.

If you would like to provide a response to the background paper, we encourage responses from individuals and organisations by 4 July 2022.

After this date, any comments about this background paper can be made via the submissions process.

Responses can be provided, either:

  • electronically to
  • in writing to GPO Box 1422, Brisbane, Queensland 4001
  • by phone on 1800 517 199 or +61 7 3734 1900, we can make a time with you to take your response over the phone (Monday to Friday, excluding national public holidays)
  • by audio recording
  • by video recording.

Responses can be in any language. The Royal Commission will translate the response to English.

We may make your response public unless you tell us not to.

We will publish transcripts and a summary report on the roundtables.

The roundtables will also help assist in determining the content of Public hearing 30 to be held from 21 to 25 November 2022. This hearing will further examine people’s lived experience of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation associated with substitute decision-making, including guardianship and administration.

Roundtable – Supported decision-making and guardianship – Summary report (Auslan)


Roundtables – Supported decision-making and guardianship

Summary report


In this video we discuss two things:

Guardianship and administration orders - These are legal decisions that allow a person to make decisions for another person. Decisions might include where they live, what health care they get and how their money is managed. These are sometimes called ‘substitute decisions’.

Supported decision-making This refers to a range of processes that assist a person to make decisions about their own life. Supports might include a friend or family member using visual aids. Or having flexible procedures, like additional breaks, for a person appearing at a tribunal.

The roundtables were held by the Disability Royal Commission in Canberra on 31 May 2022 and 1 June 2022.

We have written a report that summarises key outcomes of the roundtables. This video highlights some of these key outcomes.

Who participated in the roundtables?

More than 40 people took part in the roundtables. They included:

  • experts

  • advocates

  • government representatives

  • lawyers

  • academics

Some of the attendees were people with disability themselves.

What did people say about supported decision-making?

People said supported decision-making is the common goal. People want to move towards supported decision-making and away from substitute decision-making.

People said supported decision-making should always focus on the person with disability. The person getting the support must be at the centre of processes and decisions.

People said there should be a national framework for supported decision-making. They said:

  • This framework should inform changes to laws, and should change the conduct of professionals, government officials and others working with people with disability.

  • This framework should include different groups of people, including First Nations people and culturally and linguistically diverse people with disability.

People said there needs to be cultural change to achieve reform. There is a lack of understanding in the broader community about the rights of people with disability to make decisions about their lives.

What did people say about guardianship?

People said that guardianship orders should be avoided wherever possible. Guardianship and administration orders should be reduced, and only used as a last resort.

People said guardians should use supported decision-making when a formal decision needs to be made, for example where a person should live.

People said guardianship should only be specific to certain decisions, for example decisions about accommodation should not concern health and medical treatment. And decisions should be for the shortest time possible. Once the decision is made, then there is no longer a need for a guardian.

People said there needs to be a variety of ways to reduce the reliance on guardianship orders, and to support people to make decisions. We need to do more than just change laws. We need to:

  • empower people with disability

  • provide information and support for families

  • educate tribunal members

  • change services and systems away from substitute decision-making.

More information

You can find the full summary report and more information on the roundtables on our website. Go to the ‘Publications’ section and click on ‘Roundtables’.