The ability to make your own decisions is called 'capacity'.When you have capacity you can make your own decisions about things that happen in your life. These might be small decisions that you make everyday, like what to eat or who you want to see. Or they might be bigger decisions, like where you live, buying a car or whether you need to have an operation.
Before another person decides that you can't make a decision for yourself, they must do a 'capacity assessment'. The person might talk with you about the decision that has to be made. They might tell you the reasons why there is concern about your ability to decide for yourself. The person may be worried if decisions you make:
When a person is doing the capacity assessment they should think about some important things that protect your rights. These are called
Capacity Assessment Principles, and are listed below.
1. The person assessing you should always start an assessment by assuming you have capacity to make decisions.
2. The person assessing you should understand that if you can't make a decision about one thing, you may still be able to make other decisions.
For example, you may be able to decide what to buy at the grocery store, but not decide when to buy a house.
3. The person assessing you should never assume that you lack capacity because of how you look or act, or because of your cultural or religious beliefs.
4. The person assessing you should look at your ability to understand the decision and not judge if the decision is good or bad. Everyone has his or her own likes and dislikes. You might think that a decision is a good one, but someone else might worry that it is unwise. For example, eating chocolate cake for breakfast may be judged as unwise but it does not mean you do not have decision-making capacity.
5. The person assessing you should respect your privacy.
6. The person assessing you should support you or get support for you to help you make a decision, before they decide you can't make it. Sometimes you may just need some help, or assistance, to make the decision yourself. The support you may need will depend on why it is hard for you to make a decision. You might need:
Make sure you ask for the help you need, to help you to make a decision yourself.
If you are assessed as not being able to make a decision even though you have had support, you may need someone else to make the decision for you. This might be someone from your family, a friend or another person. They are called a 'substitute decision-maker'. They should also ask you what you want, but may need to make a decision you don't like.
Help is available if you are unhappy about the decisions made about your capacity because:
You can get help by talking to the Guardianship Division:Phone: (02) 9555 8500Toll free: 1800 463 928Website:
www.ncat.nsw.gov.au/Pages/guardianship/guardianship.aspxThis information can be provided in alternative formats such as Braille, audio, large print or electronic formats. Please contact Diversity Services on (02) 8688 87507
People who are Deaf or hard of hearing use the national relay service to contact us call: 133 677.
People with speech impairments use the national relay service speak and listen service 1300 555 727. or email:
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