Substitute Decision-making

Special Voices can assist parents and siblings of adults with autism or intellectual disability to put in place any required legal substitute decision-making arrangements.

What is a substitute decision-maker?

A substitute decision-maker is a person who makes a disability care, medical treatment, financial, property or lifestyle decision for a person who does not have decision-making capacity, such as a severely intellectually disabled adult child, or an elderly parent who has dementia.

The substitute decision-maker ’stands in the shoes’ of the person to make the decision.

In general, the substitute decision-maker’s decision will have the same legal effect as if the person had capacity and had made the decision themselves.

When making decisions for a person, the substitute decision-maker must generally think about what decision the person would have made and what would be in the person’s best interests.

Angela Cox

Principal Lawyer

Types of substitute decision-making arrangements to consider

If you think that your adult family member with intellectual disability requires a substitute decision-maker (such as you, or another family member), it is important to consider the different types of arrangements available to you under:

  • The laws of your home state or territory. This is because each jurisdiction has its own legislation on substitute decision-making.  Queensland and Victorian legislation also provides for types of supported decision-making (whereby a person with diminished capacity is supported to make their own decisions).
  • Commonwealth legislation. This provides for substitute decision-making arrangements in the context of national social service systems.

Yes, the laws in this area are complex and overlapping!

However, to give you an idea of the types of arrangements that may be suited to your family’s needs, below are some examples of a substitute decision-maker (from Victorian and Commonwealth laws).

Examples of substitute decision-makers

A person appointed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) with power to make decisions about personal matters for someone who is unable to make those decisions for themselves. These matters may include their living arrangements, work arrangements, medical treatment and access to people and services.

A person appointed by the VCAT who has power to make decisions about financial matters on behalf of the person with intellectual disability.

A person authorised under the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 (Vic) to make medical treatment decisions on behalf of a patient who does not have decision-making capacity to make that decision

A person who is appointed in writing, at the request of a NDIS participant with intellectual disability, or on the initiative of the NDIA, to act on behalf of, or make decisions on behalf of a participant for the purposes of the NDIS Act 2013 (Cth).
A person who is accepted by Centrelink to act on behalf of a person with intellectual disability in their dealings with Centrelink.

A person who has been accepted by Medicare to act on behalf of a person with intellectual disability in their dealings with Medicare.

What if a substitute decision-maker is abusing their position?

If your family member with intellectual disability already has a substitute decision-maker, such as a guardian, and you think that person is abusing their position, or otherwise not acting in the best interests of your family member, you may be able to take legal action to rectify the situation to protect your family member.

How Special Voices can help you with substitute decision-making arrangements?

The Australian laws on substitute decision-making are complex and overlapping. Special Voices can help you with establishing a new, or challenging an existing, substitute decision-making arrangement.

New subsitute decision-making arrangement

If you wish to establish a new substitute decision making arrangement, Special Voices can:

  • Provide you with clear, plain English legal advice on the substitute decision-making options available to your family and recommend the best option for your circumstances; and
  • Implement your preferred substitute decision-making arrangements.

Existing substitute decision-making arrangement

If you are concerned with, or wish to challenge, an existing substitute decision-making arrangement, Special Voices can:

  • Provide you with plain English legal advice on your options for resolving your concerns;
  • Legally represent you in any dispute or complaint process.



Why Choose Special Voices

Easy-to-understand, plain English legal advice

Reasonable fees disclosed up-front

100% independent - I have your back

Empathy for families from lived experience

25 years' experience in disability law

Certified by the Victorian Legal Services Board

Next steps

How do I get Special Voices to help me and my family?


Book a consultation

The first step is to book a consultation with me. We will talk about your problem and get to know each other.


Receive a proposal

I will send you a written proposal detailing how I can help you to solve your problem. This will include a quote for the proposed work (no hidden or surprise costs down the track).


Get your problem solved

We work together to solve your problem and achieve your desired outcome as quickly as possible.

Book a consultation

Book a consultation to discuss your substitute decision-making concerns and how Special Voices can help.