Victoria Attorney-General Jill Hennessy
Guardianship Reform Laws Pass Parliament
Victor P Taffa
Biggest changes to Victoria’s guardianship and administration laws in more than 30 years have passed the Parliament thanks to the Andrews Government.
Guardianship and Administration Act 2019 will better protect the right of adults with a disability whose decision-making capacity might be impaired to make and participate in decisions that affect their lives.
“These laws are another step forward in affording Victorian’s living with a disability the right and dignity to be supported and empowered to make their own decisions” Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said.
“Every Victorian has the right to enjoy his or her human rights without discrimination and these changes will give Victorians living with a disability greater choice in their homes, lives and communities”
Changes replace outdated laws from 1986 and include a presumption that a person has decision-making capacity unless evidence is provided otherwise and recognises that a person has decision-making capacity if they can make decisions with support.
Reforms also create new offences 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 5 years in prison.
Laws allow for the appointment of a supportive guardian or administrator who can help a person to make their own decisions.
“This is about ensuring that all Victorians with a disability can participate in the decision-making that affects their own lives, while protecting them along them the way. They deserve no less.” Minister for Disability Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan said.
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) will also be able to set limits on guardianship and administration appointments, so that orders are tailored to fit individual circumstances.
VCAT will also hear all initial applications in the person’s presence, unless satisfied that the person doesn’t want to attend, or there is another justifiable reason for their absence.
Changes reflect a more modern understanding of decision-making capacity and disability, and ensure that a person’s will and preferences are followed where possible and appropriate.
Individuals can also seek compensation for a loss caused by a guardian or administrator who breaches their duties.