The management of sexuality and fertility can pose particular problems for some people with decision-making disabilities, and for their carers. With the onset of puberty, a new set of issues arise in relation to safeguarding the person's wellbeing.
These issues include:
- how to deal with menstruation
- how to protect the person from the possibility and consequences of unwanted pregnancy
- how to manage inappropriate sexual behaviour
- how to protect the person from sexual abuse or exploitation.
Where there is a guardianship order in place, and it would be in the best interests of a person with a decision-making disability to undergo a sterilisation procedure, an application can be made to SAT for consent to carry out this procedure.
Applications for Sterilisation Procedures
In Western Australia, the sterilisation of adults with decision-making disabilities is specifically provided for in sections 56 to 63 of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1990 (the Act).
Sterilisation of a person with a decision-making disability cannot take place without the joint consent in writing of the guardian and SAT which conducts hearings into applications under the Act and until all rights of appeal in respect of SAT’s decision to consent have lapsed or been exhausted.
A represented person, his or her guardian or the Public Advocate may apply to SAT for its consent to the carrying out of a sterilisation procedure. SAT may, by order, consent to the sterilisation if it is satisfied that it is in the best interests of the represented person. The consent of SAT may be given subject to compliance with any condition imposed by SAT.
A person who knows that an application has been made for a guardianship order must not carry out or take part in a sterilisation procedure before the application has been dealt with by SAT and all rights of appeal in respect of the SAT's determination have lapsed or been exhausted.
People who carry out or take part in a sterilisation procedure contrary to the provisions of the Act commit an offence for which the penalty is $4000 and imprisonment for two years.
Last updated: 22 August 2023
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