Making legal decisions

After the age of 18, NSW law assumes a young person has the capacity to make decisions.

You may be supported to make decisions about your finances, health and life choices. Your wishes guide this process.

Enduring guardian vs power of attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a person, or trustee organisation the legal authority to act for you to manage your assets and make financial and legal decisions on your behalf.

An Enduring Guardian is the person you legally appoint to make decisions about your health and lifestyle in the event you cannot make these decisions for yourself. You can appoint an Enduring Guardian as long as you are over 18 and have the capacity to make this choice on your own.

An Advance Care Directive involves talking about your values and the type of health care you would want to receive if you became seriously ill or injured and were unable to say what you want.

A 'person responsible'

Sometimes the law uses the term “person responsible’ which is another way of referring to someone you have a close and trusted relationship with. A 'person responsible' helps you make important life decisions when you are not able to, even with support. 

A person responsible can be a family member, friend or neighbour, however it is important to note that anyone who is paid to provide support services is ineligible. 

Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal

Sometimes a formal process is necessary where the Guardianship Division of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal can appoint a guardian for medical, health and lifestyle decisions or a financial manager for financial affairs.

This may be needed if there is disagreement, or if the young person has no one able to act as a person responsible.

Capacity Toolkit

The Capacity Toolkit is a guide from the Department of Communities and Justice which assesses a person's capacity to make legal, medical, financial and personal decisions.

LawAccess NSW

LawAccess NSW gives information about the law and legal issues and provides legal advice over the phone and links to relevant services.

Youth Law Australia

Youth Law Australia is a community legal service that provides free, confidential legal information and help for young people under 25.

Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT

The Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT provides free legal services to Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders and assists adults and children through representation in court, advice and information, and referral to further support services.

Shopfront Youth Legal Centre

The Shopfront Youth Legal Centre provides free legal assistance for homeless and disadvantaged young people aged 25 and under.

Police Assistance Line

The Police Assistance Line (131 444) operates 24/7. If you are a victim of a crime, other than life threatening or time critical emergency situations, you should contact the Police Assistance Line

Anti-Discrimination NSW

If you’ve experienced discrimination in New South Wales, you can lodge a complaint with Anti-Discrimination NSW. Their services are free.

Health Care Complaints Commission

The Health Care Complaints Commission protects public health and safety by resolving, investigating and prosecuting complaints about health care. The Commission deals with complaints about all health services and providers in NSW.

Last updated Tuesday 27th February 2024