What is a decision?
A decision is any choice you make in your life. A decision can be about small things like what to wear or big things like where to live and whether to have children.
No matter how big or small, everyone has the right to make these decisions for themselves. No one can take this right away from you.
Tip: You can learn more about making choices by using the ACT Disability Aged Carer Advocacy Service (ADACAS) Decision Making Toolkit (external link).
Supported decision making
Sometimes, women and girls with disability need support to make choices and decisions. This may involve someone explaining information about different choices or providing counselling and emotional support to someone having difficulty making decisions.
If you would like help to make a decision about something, you may want to talk to someone you trust. This might be a support person or carer, a family member, a friend, a doctor or a healthcare provider. It is a good idea to ask more than one person to help you make a decision.
Note: Someone pressuring you to make a certain decision or making decisions for you without your consent is not supported decision making. It is a form of violence. Learn more on the page What is Violence?
What if I cannot make my own decisions?
While people with disability should always be supported to make their own decisions when possible, there are some rare situations where you may be unable to do so, such as if you are in a coma or unconscious. This can happen to anyone, so it is important to have a plan in place for who will make decisions for you if required. You can do this by appointing a Guardian and Power of Attorney.
Note: Appointing a Guardian and Power of Attorney is a complicated process. It is a good idea to ask an advocate to help you. Use the Government Disability Advocacy Finder (external link) to find an advocate in your area.
You can also ask a community legal service to help. You can find a local service on the Community Legal Centres Australia website (external link).
Appointing a Guardian
Guardians are appointed to make health and welfare decisions on behalf of the person under their guardianship. These decisions might include where to live, what services to use and what medical treatments to have. A guardian cannot make decisions about money and assets, unless they have been legally appointed by you to do so.
In most cases guardians should assist you to make your own decisions. In rare cases where a guardian must make the decision, they should try to base their choices on what you would want.
You can include your wants and preferences in the legal documents when you appoint a guardian.
Tip: Learn more about Guardianship on the Australian Guardianship Law website (external link).
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that you can use to appoint someone to make decisions for you about property and finances.
A General Power of Attorney is used to give someone the ability to make decisions for you for a set period of time. For example, if you go overseas or are going to hospital.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is used to give someone the ability to continue to make decisions for you even after you have lost capacity to do so yourself. An Enduring Power of Attorney can be used if you want to give someone power to make decisions for you once you can no longer do so.
Tip: You can learn more about appointing a Guardian and a Power of Attorney on
the Citizens Advice Bureau website (external link).