The NSW Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) is committed to promoting and protecting the rights and dignity of all people in the state. As part of our role, the DCJ has produced this Capacity Toolkit. It aims to assist people in correctly identifying whether an individual has the capacity to make their own decisions. This is important, since an incorrect assessment can result in the denial of a fundamental human right; the right to autonomous decision-making or 'self-determination'.

The Capacity Toolkit is the result of feedback received from hundreds of people, many of whom have been involved with someone whose decision-making ability has been in question. Feedback was gathered in a two-stage consultation process that included family members, carers, advocates, lawyers, doctors, other community and health care workers, workers in the finance field, and government employees.

The first stage was the Capacity Roundtable, hosted in Sydney in 2004 by the former Attorney General's Department (AGD). Participation was extensive, leading to a lively and informative discussion about how to define capacity, assess capacity and how to access general advice on capacity.

The second stage was a discussion paper entitled 'Are the rights of people whose capacity is in question being adequately promoted and protected?'. It was issued in 2006 for public comment. Among other things, the discussion paper looked at the different meanings of capacity in NSW and what information people who assess capacity might need.

Like those at the Roundtable, people who responded to the discussion paper requested more information about capacity, asking for the development of some general capacity principles, and guidelines on how to decide whether someone has capacity.

This Capacity Toolkit was created in response to that request. It provides information and guidance to government employees, community workers, professionals, families and carers in issues relating to capacity and capacity assessment. In doing so, it upholds the freedom of each individual to make their own decisions, while protecting the interests and dignity of those who lack the capacity to do so.

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Decision-making & Capacity E-Learning

A FREE 30 minute E-learning based on the Capacity Toolkit has been designed for professionals who work with people with decision-making disabilities in legal, health, finance, social work and for carers. Learn how to empower people with decision-making disabilities to make decisions for themselves. To view select:

Decision-making and capacity E-Learning