The VLRC plays a central role in the history of law reform in Victoria. In 2000 the Parliament of Victoria passed the Victorian Law Reform Commission Act, establishing the VLRC as a central law reform agency in Victoria. In 2021, the VLRC marked 20 years of operation.
Then-Attorney-General Rob Hulls said in May 2000 that the charter of the VLRC would be “to facilitate community-wide debate of law reform issues and to assist members of Parliament in identifying key areas of law reform. The aim is to place Victoria at the cutting edge in law reform in Australia.”
The VLRC is an independent body, and its recommendations are reached without outside influence or interference. It makes extensive use of community consultations and submissions, reflecting its philosophy that the public must have a say in determining changes to the law. It places great emphasis on research. Over the years the VLRC has wrestled with challenges ranging from the very old (such as neighbourhood tree disputes, a matter once considered by the Romans) to the very new, such as assisted reproductive technology and digital surveillance. It has addressed important and controversial social issues such as decriminalising abortion, legalising medicinal cannabis, and changing the definition of consent in sexual offences.
Since 2001 the VLRC has commenced 47 inquiries (as at November 2022). Thirty-eight of these were referred by the Attorney-General, while nine community law reform projects were proposed by members of the community. This community law reform function of the VLRC is another important way that the public can provide input into law reform. Overall, 30 of the Commission’s reports – 75 per cent of those completed – have resulted in significant legislative change. In 23 cases, all or most of the recommendations have been implemented, and in a further two the government has made an in-principle commitment to implementation. Find out more about the implementation of VLRC recommendations.