Healthy living

Enduring Power of Guardianship

  • An enduring guardian is a person you appoint to make important personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions on your behalf, if you ever become incapable of making such decisions yourself.
  • To appoint an enduring guardian, you will need to fill out an Enduring Power of Guardianship (EPG).
What is an Enduring Power of Guardianship?

An Enduring Power of Guardianship (EPG) is a legal document which enables a person to appoint someone or several people (who they trust and knows them well) as an enduring guardian to make personal, lifestyle and medical treatment decisions when they are unable to make or communicate those decisions for themselves.

These forms and documents are available from the Office of the Public Advocate (external site).

This is particularly useful because it is not always possible in an Advance Health Directive to anticipate every scenario that may happen to you. Therefore, having someone who can speak on your behalf is another way of ensuring that what you want to happen to you when you are unable to communicate actually happens.

It may also be a useful way of respecting different cultures. For example, in many cultures, you don’t talk to the patient, but instead to a tribal elder. In other cultures, the most senior uncle or oldest son may be the one who has the responsibility for making important decisions.

Different groups can decide to use the Enduring Power of Guardianship to acknowledge these culture norms. Or a patient may wish that they don’t want this to happen.

For example, an elderly woman may feel ashamed to have her son making decisions about matters which are intimate to her. Maybe, she would prefer her daughter to make those decisions and choose to appoint her daughter instead of son.

The important thing to remember is that the enduring guardian can only make decisions on your behalf if they know what you want.

A person can have both an Advance Health Directive and an enduring guardian, or just an Advance Health Directive or just an enduring guardian.

Who can appoint an enduring guardian?

You must be 18 or over and have the capacity to form your own decision on making an EPG.

Who should I appoint as an enduring guardian?

You should appoint someone you know and trust. For example, your spouse or partner, other relative or close friend.

You should ensure your enduring guardian is aware of your personal vales, beliefs and lifestyle preferences.

When will my enduring guardian have the power to make decisions for me?

Your EPG will only be used if and when you become unable to make decisions for yourself.

You choose the type of decisions your enduring guardian will be able to make, such as where you live and what treatment and services you receive.

If you make an Advanced Health Directive (AHD) this will take priority over the decisions of your enduring guardian for the treatment stated in the document.

What is the difference between Enduring Power of Guardianship and an Advance Health Directive?

An EPG is a legal document where you appoint one or more persons as an enduring guardian to make personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions for you.

You can choose the type of decisions your enduring guardian will be able to make. These decisions include where you will live, and what treatment and medical services you will receive.

An Advance Health Directive (AHD) is a document that contains your decisions about future treatment.

You can have both an AHD and EPG, but having an AHD overrides the EPG when it comes to treatment.

This means that if you are unable to make a treatment decision yourself, the instructions in your AHD will be used instead of asking your enduring guardian to make these decisions for you.

Can I appoint an enduring guardian in my Advance Health Directive?

You cannot use your AHD to appoint an enduring guardian. To appoint an enduring guardian you must complete an EPG form.

Can my guardian or enduring guardian make an Advance Health Directive for me?

It is not possible for another person to make an AHD on your behalf.

What is the difference between an enduring guardian and an enduring attorney?

An enduring attorney is not able to make personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions on your behalf. The authority of the enduring attorney is limited to making decisions about your financial affairs and property.

It is possible for the same person to be appointed as both your enduring guardian and enduring attorney at the same time.

Where to get help

Advance Health Directives

Phone: (08) 9222 2300
Advance Health Directives website

Enduring Powers of Guardianship

Office of the Public Advocate
Phone: 1300 858 455 (local call rates from land line only)
Enduring Power of Guardianship website (external site)


End of Life Care Program

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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