Public Advocate welcomes new guardianship laws
Wednesday, 29 May 2019
The Public Advocate, Colleen Pearce, has welcomed the passing of the new Guardianship and Administration Act 2019, which comes into effect 1 March 2020.
The new Act includes a presumption that a person has the capacity to make decisions unless evidence is provided otherwise and recognises that a person also has decision-making capacity if they can make decisions with support.
Dr Pearce said, “A primary object of the Bill is to protect and promote the human rights and dignity of persons with a disability by having regard to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“It recognises one of the most important human rights for people with cognitive disability: the right to make, participate in and implement decisions that affect their lives, and to be provided with the support they need to make and implement such decisions.”
The new Act enables the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to appoint a supportive guardian (personal matters) or supportive administrator (financial matters).
If there is no other less restrictive option, VCAT may still appoint a guardian with powers relating to personal matters and/or an administrator with powers in relation to financial matters.
However, they must ensure that a person’s will and preferences are followed unless it would cause harm to the person.
The new Act retains the Public Advocate as an independent statutory office charged with promoting the human rights of persons with a disability and provides a new clear statement of functions and powers including:
- promoting the development of the ability of persons with a disability to act independently
- protecting persons with a disability from abuse, neglect and exploitation
- undertaking advocacy for persons with a disability on a systemic or individual basis
- managing and coordinating programs that promote the human rights of persons with a disability.