New legislation will commence from today to better protect the rights of adults with a disability to make and participate in decisions that affect their lives.
The Guardianship and Administration Act 2019 presumes that a person has decision-making capacity unless evidence is provided to the contrary. It also recognises that a person has decision-making capacity if they can make decisions with support.
Representing the biggest change to the state’s guardianship and administration laws in more than 30 years, the legislation reflects a more modern understanding of decision-making capacity and disability.
A supportive guardian or administrator will now be able to be appointed to help a person to make their own lifestyle, financial and legal decisions.
New offences will apply for guardians or administrators who dishonestly use their appointment for financial gain or cause loss to the represented person, with anyone found guilty facing up to five years in prison.
Individuals can also seek compensation for a loss caused by a guardian or administrator who breaches their duties.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) will be empowered to set limits on guardianship and administration appointments, to ensure orders are tailored to fit individual circumstances.
VCAT will also hear all initial applications in the presence of the person with a disability, unless satisfied that the person doesn’t want to attend, or there is another justifiable reason for their absence.
The Andrews Labor Government is supporting a more modern guardianship and administration system by making available more than $2.5 million through Court Services Victoria to upgrade the Guardianship Hub—an online portal for filing and monitoring VCAT applications about guardianships—increasing efficiency and ensuring ease-of-use for applicants.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Jill Hennessy
“This new law promotes the dignity, equality and autonomy of people living with disability, while retaining the safeguards necessary for them to most fully realise their potential.”
“Every Victorian has the right to enjoy their human rights without discrimination and these changes will give Victorians living with a disability greater choice in their homes, lives and communities”
Quote attributable to Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan
“This landmark change acknowledges the rights of people with a disability to have a say in decision-making that directly impacts their own lives.”