The Victorian Coalition Government has welcomed the Victorian Law Reform Commission's (VLRC) report on guardianship, which was tabled in Parliament today.
The Commission was asked by the previous Government in June 2009 to review and report on all aspects of guardianship and administration law in Victoria.
The Commission's comprehensive report makes 440 recommendations, including:
- creating a new Guardianship Act to provide for supported decision making and set out general principles for substitute decision making;
- facilitating greater use of personal appointments of supported and substitute decision makers, so that the Public Advocate can remain a guardian of last resort;
- giving the Public Advocate greater powers to investigate and protect individuals from abuse; and
- reforming VCAT procedures to expedite urgent matters and resolve matters outside of formal hearings where possible.
The Attorney-General, Robert Clark, said the report highlighted the need for change to current laws providing for people with impaired decision-making capacity.
"The report rightly recognises that decision-making capacity is not an all-or-nothing concept. People with impaired decision-making capacity may be fully capable of making some types of decision themselves, while needing various levels of help with other decisions and activities.
"The report also recognises that impaired decision-making capacity can have many causes, including intellectual disabilities from birth, acquired brain injuries, mental illness and impairments associated with ageing. Some of these impairments are temporary, some are on-going, and some can vary in nature and extent over time.
"The law needs to make provision for this wide range of circumstances, and do so in the context of an ageing population and in a way that provides the widest possible scope and support for people to make their own decisions where possible, encourages and empowers the involvement of supportive family and friends, and protects against abuse and exploitation.
"The Coalition Government intends to draw on the report's recommendations, together with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Law Reform Committee's 2010 report on Powers of Attorney, giving priority to reforms that will make it easier for individuals and their families to provide for their current and future needs, while strengthening and enhancing the last-resort and protective roles of VCAT and the Office of Public Advocate."
Mr Clark thanked all members and staff of the VLRC involved in the report for the expertise, dedication and commitment they have given to the project.