The Guardianship and Administration Amendment Bill 2023 has passed the Legislative Council and received Royal Assent on 29 September 2023. A commencement date is yet to be proclaimed, pending the completion of implementation and the development of associated forms, regulations and educational materials.
The purpose of the amendments was to update and modernise key concepts in the Act and to establish a new legislative framework for the appointment, review and duties of decision-makers in relation to those under guardianship orders. Importantly this second tranche of amendments give effect to certain recommendations from the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute’s 2018 Review of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1995 Final Report and the Independent Review of the Public Trustee conducted by Damian Bugg AM KC in 2021.
The Department of Justice has started an implementation working group, including the Department of Health, Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Public Guardian and Public Trustee. This group is identifying changes to systems and practices to enable the Act to commence. This will also include amendment to the Guardianship and Administration Regulations 2017. The working group will meet on a regular basis. A communications and stakeholder engagement plan is being developed to ensure other stakeholders are aware of progress.
Work has already started in relation to a number of areas of reform in the amending Act and will continue over the coming period. The Public Trustee, for example, is implementing a new supported decision-making framework which will help to enable clients to actively participate in decisions that will affect their lives (more information is available on the Public Trustee website).
The Working Group proposes a commencement date of September 2024 or earlier. This would be a period of up to twelve months since the reforms were approved by Parliament and enable enough time to undertake the broad range of work that is required across all systems to ensure that the changes are given effect, and new resources are in place. A similar implementation period occurred for the previous round of guardianship reforms (advance care directives).