This page provides information about how Victorian law has changed as a result of the Commission’s inquiries. Since 2001, the Commission has completed 46 inquiries. Of those that have been completed, around 75 per cent have been implemented, in whole or in part.
This list can be ordered by date or title – click on the arrows at the top of the ‘Date’ or ‘Title’ columns. The date refers to the year that the report was delivered (the tabling and publication date may be later.)
The two right columns are where you will find information about the relevant law and what has changed. You can also click on the title of the project in the left column to go to the relevant project page, with associated publications.
6 September 2022: The Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Act 2022 implemented 13 recommendations of the VLRC report. The Act reforms the Crimes Act 1958 to introduce an affirmative model of consent and to criminalise stealthing (Recommendations 50 & 51). Image-based sexual abuse is also tackled in this bill to make these offences indictable offences, moving them to the Crimes Act (Recommendations 52, 53, 54). Other sections amend the Jury Directions Act 2015 to improve judges’ directions to juries in sexual offence trials, to address common misconceptions jurors may hold about sexual violence, to require judges to explain the meaning of the phrase ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’, and for directions to be given earlier and more frequently (Recommendations 78, 79, 82). The Act also amends the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 so that ‘ground rules hearings’ apply to adult complainants in sexual offence cases. This means that the judge, prosecution and defence must consider the communication and other needs of the complainant, and agree on the style, parameters and scope of questioning before the complainant is called to give evidence (Recommendation 84). References to ‘chastity’ have been removed from the Criminal Procedure Act and the language modernised (Recommendation 89).
The Act also implemented Recommendations 45 and 46 of the VLRC’s Committals report (reiterated in the Sexual Offences report), with the court to have regard to additional considerations when determining whether to allow pre-trial cross-examination of a witness who has a cognitive impairment or is a complainant in a proceeding that relates to a charge for a sexual or family violence offence. Magistrates will also need to provide reasons for granting leave to cross-examine a witness and identify each issue on which the witness may be cross-examined (Recommendation 46, Committals report). The Act also implements Recommendations 25 and 44 of the VLRC’s The Role of Victims of Crime in the Criminal Trial Process report and extends the current confidential communications protections in criminal proceedings to ‘protected health information’.
12 November 2021: The Victorian Government announced it would implement the Commission’s recommendations on affirmative consent and stealthing, and commit extra funds to specialist sexual assault services. It is considering all the other recommendations. [Victoria Government Media Release]
6 September 2022: The Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters ) Act 2022 implemented, with minor changes, Recommendations 45 and 46 of the Committals report. The Criminal Procedure Act 2009 section 124 has been amended. Additional considerations for granting leave to cross-examine witnesses now apply to adult complainants in cases involving sexual or family violence, and to witnesses with a cognitive impairment. Previously these considerations applied only to child witnesses. If the Magistrates’ Court grants leave to cross-examine a witness, the court must state the reasons for granting leave to cross-examine a witness and identify each issue on which the witness may be cross-examined. The court must take into account the trauma that the witness is likely to experience as well as other factors.
15 February 2022: The Justice Legislation Amendment (Criminal Procedure Disclosure and Other Matters) Act 2022 amends the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 to ensure the informant’s disclosure obligations to the DPP apply regardless of claims of privilege or public interest or statutory immunity (Recommendation 33). The amending act requires police to complete a disclosure certificate identifying information that has been withheld from the brief of evidence, ensuring parties are aware and can seek an order from the court to have the material disclosed (Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants Recommendation #63). Unlike the Royal Commission, the VLRC did not recommend disclosure certificates or that the material subject to these claims be produced, instead recommending informants to give sworn evidence re disclosure.
30 November 2020: Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants Final Report published. The report referred to the VLRC Committals Report and some of its recommendations were aligned to those of the VLRC.
17 Nov 2020: The Justice Legislation Amendment (Supporting Victims and Other Matters) Act amended the Judicial Proceedings Reports Act which VLRC described as a complex and confusing piece of legislation in need of reform and modernisation. Reforms relating to adult victim-survivors are consistent with recommendations of the VLRC Contempt of Court Report: In cases cases where victim-survivors do not have the capacity to provide permission themselves, the court will retain a role in granting permission for publication.
23 May 2023: The Victorian Budget 2023/24 (Paper No.3) invests an additional $17.39 million to support the Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance Scheme) Act 2022 and continue the transition to a new financial assistance scheme and establishment of a simpler, victim-centred compensation system for victims of crime, as recommended by the VLRC.
7 June 2022: The Victims of Crime (Financial Assistance Scheme) Act 2022 replaced the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (VOCAT) with an administrative financial assistance scheme, as recommended by the VLRC. The new scheme will be easier to use and reflect a trauma-informed model to assist victims in their recovery from acts of violence. It will work without hearings, courts, magistrates, or the need for victims to face perpetrators. Funding for the scheme was included in the Victorian Budget 2022/23 (Paper No. 3). The scheme is expected to become operational in the second half of 2023.
30 June 2020 – Justice Legislation Miscellaneous Amendments Act 2020 assented (commenced 1/7/20) The act amends section 33ZDA (Group costs orders) in the Supreme Court Act 1986 Part 4A to provide the Supreme Court with the power to order, on application by a representative plaintiff, a common fund for a litigation services fee, where the fee is calculated as a percentage of any recovered amount and liability for payment is shared by all class members. This was a key VLRC recommendation (Recommendation 8).
31 May 2022 The Justice Legislation Amendment Act 2022 enabled integrated birth certificates for adopted Victorians. (Recommendation 24). In March 2022 the Victorian Government pledged funding to roll out optional integrated birth certificates.
10 March 2022: The Government tabled its response to the Victorian Parliamentary Committee Inquiry into Responses to Historical Forced Adoption in Victoria. In this response it referred to the VLRC’s Adoption report and some of our recommendations.
Central to the VLRC’s recommendations was the need for a new Adoption Act with a centralised approach to adoption services. While the Victorian Government responded in its response to the Parliamentary Committee report that further inquiries were needed for significant legislative change, it stated that the transition of adoption services from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Justice and Community Safety had modernised adoption practices.
The Victorian Government response also noted:
– establishing the identity of the father is undertaken at the time of options counselling and before consent is signed so that his consent to the adoption is obtained and his details are listed on the birth certificate and in the adoption records for the child’s future knowledge. VLRC recommended the Adoption Act should require that, where the father has not been identified, the Secretary must take reasonable steps, as specified in the Regulations, to establish the identity of the father (Recommendation 31).
– where a parent under 18 is considering relinquishing their child, the options counsellor is required to undertake a capacity assessment. According to the Government, the options counsellor is an appropriately qualified and independent person. In 2017 VLRC found that there was no guidance about the process that should be used to assess whether a young parent is competent to give consent to the adoption of their child and recommended the Adoption Act should require that, if a parent under 18 years of age is considering giving consent to the adoption of their child, the Secretary must have a ‘qualified person’ assess, and provide a report on, the parent’s capacity to provide consent. The ‘qualified person’ must not be the same person who is providing or will provide counselling to the parent (Recommendation 39).
1 October 2021: Secretary of the Department of Justice and Community Safety ceased to authorise adoption agencies under the Adoption Act 1984. Adoption Services, as the Secretary’s delegate, became the guardian of all children available for adoption in Victoria, deciding which adoptive families are approved to adopt, and releasing records and information to applicants for adoption information. Agencies continue to provide a range of services to children and families, such as counselling to parents considering placing their child for adoption, assessing people wanting to adopt and post placement supervision and support, but they do so as funded service providers. VLRC recommended the new Act should enable the Secretary to approve agencies to carry out discrete, rather than all, adoption services and should establish a central statewide register of approved applicants which the Secretary and principal officers must consult when selecting prospective adoptive parents (Recommendation 59).
July 2019: Responsibility for Adoption Services transitioned to the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS). This transition included modernising practices to ensure that applicants understand the information contained in their records and gauge their need for further support. While VLRC’s broader recommendation for a new access to information scheme was not adopted, the change enabled the department to improve adoption data reporting with ongoing information technology system improvements due to be completed in January 2022, that will enable the Department of Justice and Community Safety to accurately maintain and report adoption data. The VLRC recommended the Adoption Act should require the Secretary to maintain, and report annually, comprehensive, reliable, consistent statewide data on the operation and delivery of adoption services, including support and mediation services (Recommendation 72c), and replace the requirement to be interviewed by a counsellor prior to accessing adoption information with an obligation on the Secretary to offer of counselling and advice if information could reasonably be expected to be distressing (Recommendation 87).
The main recommendation of this report has not been implemented: people do not have the right to leave legally binding instructions about their funeral and burial. However, the Cemeteries and Crematoria Amendment Act 2021 goes some way to disallowing persons to be buried near a person affected by their behaviour – eg a relevant offender, someone responsible for their death or a relative or associate of the offender. An affected person can now apply to the Secretary (Dept of Health) for a variation or surrender of the right of interment. Implementation scheduled from 1 March 2022. The amendment inserts a new Division 2A of Part 6 of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Act 2003 (VIC). The amendments are intended for circumstances where the exercise of a right of interment will be particularly painful or difficult for a person affected by a serious crime committed by the holder of a right of interment, or for a person affected by a death caused by a person who is also deceased, but whose relative or associate holds that right.
Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 (now repealed)
12 April 2016: The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 (Vic) passed but was later repealed. The Act enabled access to medicinal cannabis to defined groups of patients, including
(a) a patient who—
(i) is under 18 years of age; and
(ii) experiences severe seizures resulting from an epileptic condition in respect of which other treatment options have not proved effective or have generated intolerable side effects; and
(iii) meets the prescribed criteria in respect of that condition (if any);
(b) a patient who—
(i) has a prescribed medical condition; and
(ii) meets the prescribed criteria in respect of that condition (if any);
28 September 2016 – Access to Medicinal Cannabis Regulations 2016 (Vic) passed, but were later revoked, prescribing who can dispense medicinal cannabis and what information needs to kept on the approved medicinal cannabis product, and practitioner authorisations registers.
Today, medicinal cannabis is regulated by a framework of Commonwealth and state legislation. For more information, see the Office of Medicinal Cannabis website.
26 September 2017: Justice Legislation Amendment (Protective Services Officers and Other Matters) Act 2017 regulated the scrap metal industry, including the banning of cash payments.
30 May 2018 – Cash for scrap metal ban came into effect and on 27 October 2016 the final report of the Victorian Inquiry into Labour Hire and Insecure Work was tabled in Parliament. The Government responded with support to regulate the industry, including setting up a licensing scheme to ensure all labour hire operators are licensed.
Victims and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018; and others (see next column)
11 September 2018: The Victims and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2018 implemented key recommendations of the report. The Act recognised that victims of crimes have an inherent interest in the response to a crime by the criminal justice system, and acknowledged the role of victims as a participant, but not a party, in the proceedings. The Act changed the law in relation to communications with victims, victim impact statements and complaints. In particular, by:
- implementing Recommendation 1, inserting a paragraph into the Victims’ Charter Act 2006 to recognise that a victim of crime has an inherent interest in the response by the criminal justice system to that crime
- requiring investigatory agencies, prosecuting agencies and victims’ services agencies to respect the rights and entitlements of victims as participants in proceedings; in particular the needs of victims in rural and regional locations (Recommendations 15 and 16)
- requiring the Department of Public Prosecutions to take all reasonable steps to advise a victim of the details of criminal proceedings and the progress of a prosecution (Recommendation 20); and to seek a victim’s views regarding modifying charges, discontinuing a prosecution, or an appeal (Recommendation 24); and to provide reasons for decisions to a victim (Recommendation 9)
- requiring the prosecuting agency to provide victims with information about the contents of a victim impact statement that may be ruled inadmissible (Recommendation 27)
- setting up a complaints system for victims, relating to investigatory agency, prosecuting agency and victims’ services agencies (Recommendation 7(a)
- empowering the Victims of Crime Commissioner to investigate complaints from victims (Recommendation 8).
6 Sept 2022: The Justice Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Act 2022 implemented recommendation 25 (a), requiring the prosecution to notify the victim of their right to appear and the availability of legal assistance in relation to an application to access and use their confidential communications. The court must not grant leave to produce protected evidence unless the court is satisfied that the confider has had reasonable opportunity to obtain legal advice.
15 February 2022: Justice Legislation Amendment (Criminal Procedure Disclosure and Other Matters) Act 2021 (Vic) implemented recommendations 20 and 47, amending the Victims Charter Act to mandate the Office of Public Prosecutions (OPP) to notify crime victims of their right to make a victim impact statement at an offender’s sentencing and to compel the OPP and other crime agencies to inform victims of their right to compensation or restitution from a convicted offender, and to refer them to available legal help.
27 February 2018: The Justice Legislation Amendment (Victims) Act 2018 introduced a role for intermediaries in the court process to assist witnesses under 18 years or who have a cognitive impairment (Recommendations 30 and 31).
25 September 2018: The Justice Legislation Miscellaneous Amendment Act 2018 ensured that courts disallow improper questions, such as those that are misleading or confusing, harassing, intimidating, humiliating or repetitive (Recommendation 18).
18 September 2018: The Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 stated the right of rental providers to enter the property to produce advertising images provided they give the tenant seven days notice (Recommendation 5). The renter may object to the images being produced if they contain valuable or sensitive items, or may identify a person at risk of family violence. The renter has the right to review and approve images of sensitive and valuable items, and these images can’t be used without the renter’s consent (Recommendation 2).
29 August 2017: The Justice Legislation Amendment (Court Security, Juries and Other Matters) Act 2017 implemented Recommendations 2-6, 8, 10, 12 (partly) and 15. Peremptory challenges and stand asides have been retained, the number of challenges available to criminal trials has been reduced to three in criminal trials, or two each if multiple defendants and two each in civil trials. The number of stand asides available to the crown has also been reduced and a prospective juror stood aside by the Crown is permanently removed from the ballot for that trial. A challenge can be made by the accused, their lawyer or their lawyer’s clerk.
29 August 2017: The Jury Directions and Other Acts Amendment Act 2017 removed the requirement for potential jury members to ‘parade’ in front of the accused (Recommendation 9).
Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Matters) Act 2021
Most of the recommendations of this report have not been implemented.
23 March 2021: Justice Legislation Amendment (System Enhancements and Other Matters) Act 2021 (temporary Covid measure) amended the Crimes and Mental Impairment Act 1997 (Vic) which, from 26 April 2021, enables judges to determine a person’s fitness to stand trial (recommendation 51).
The Crimes (Mental Impairment and Unfitness to be Tried) Amendment Bill 2020 would have implemented a number of recommendations, however the Bill did not pass Parliament and subsequently lapsed.
The Commission’s review coincided with a review by Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages of its services.
In its media release welcoming the Commission’s report, the Government announced that work was being done by the Registry on many of the Commission’s recommendations including:
- providing additional information in birth registration forms, including clarifying what information will be printed on the birth certificate
- additional protections for identifying information where the applicant is at risk of family violence
- the development of an online system for parents to register births;
- a new page on the Registry website providing information about Koori services
- revisions to proof of identity requirements when registering a birth
- the development of guidelines for waiving of certificate fees.
21 October 2014: The Justice Legislation Amendment (Succession and Surrogacy Act) 2014 implemented several recommendations of the VLRC’s Succession report including the recommendations on statutory wills, small estates and the payment of debts. The main purpose of the Act is to amend the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic) in relation to:
- family provision claims
- the rules for the payment of debts of an estate
- the administration of small estates, and
- to amend the court authorised wills scheme in the Wills Act 1997.
The aim of the Act is to ensure that Victorian succession laws operate justly, fairly and in accordance with community expectations in relation to the way that property is dealt with after a person dies.
19 September 2017: The Administration and Probate and Other Acts Amendment (Succession and Related Matters) Act 2017 (Vic) adopted the VLRC recommendations on intestacy and ademption, and the provision that executors can only receive fees or commissions with the consent of each interested beneficiary. The Supreme Court also has the power to review and reduce commissions considered excessive.
21 October 2014: The Sex Offenders Registration Amendment Act 2014 implemented or partially implemented some of the Commission’s 79 reform recommendations. These involved reporting conditions and obligations imposed on offenders, refining the obligation for sex offenders to report contact with children and the definition of ‘contact’, information sharing options, protocols and procedures for police and DHS, including a penalty for disclosure by an unauthorised person, and rules around the disclosure of information to a parent or carer.
In summary, the recommendations were to:
- Give the Court the power to modify reporting conditions and obligations imposed on registered offenders who are under the age of 18 (Recommendation 19)
- Allow the Chief Commissioner to suspend the reporting obligations of a person who is unable to comply because of physical or cognitive impairment (Recommendation 26).
- Registered sex offenders should be required to report the names, ages and addresses of any children with whom they have ‘contact’ and the means of contacting those children (Recommendation 41)
- Clarify which ‘contact’ a registered sex offender must report (Recommendation 32).
- Provide clear legislative authority to the Chief Commissioner of Police and the Secretaries of the Department of Justice and Regulation and Department of Human Services to share information (Recommendation 55 )
- Allow information about a registered offender to be given to a parent or carer to protect a particular child (Recommendation 57-59). The Act empowers the Secretary of DHS or an ‘authorised person’ to disclose information ‘to any other person’ if disclosure is ‘in the interests of the safety and wellbeing of the child referred to in the information’. Disclosure is not restricted to a guardian but the information has to concern an identified child.)
The VLRC’s recommendation that inclusion on the sex offenders register should not be automatic, but should be decided by a court, was not implemented.
20 June 2017: The Sex Offenders Registration Amendment (Miscellaneous) Act 2017 aimed to ensure that young adults are not inappropriately placed on the sex offenders register. The bill creates a process where offenders who are sentenced for a ‘specified offence’ committed when aged 18 or 19 will be able to apply to the courts for an order exempting them from automatic registration.
21 October 2014: The Crimes Amendment (Sexual Offences and Other Matters) Act 2014 changed the law about sexting. The laws create two new offences of ‘distribution of an intimate image’ and ‘threat to distribute an intimate image’. The new laws also introduce certain exceptions to child pornography offences so that young people under 18 years of age are not inappropriately prosecuted or added to the sex offenders register for consensual non-exploitative sexting. The VLRC did not make recommendations on this topic but raised the concern of young people inappropriately being included on the sex offenders register if they participated in sexting.
Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (Amendments)
In January 2011, shortly after the Commission’s report was tabled, the government commissioned a further inquiry into child protection, known as the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry. The terms of reference for that inquiry required consideration of ‘possible changes to the processes of the courts referencing the recent work of and options put forward by the Victorian Law Reform Commission.’
The Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children report was tabled on in February 2012. The report specifically endorsed some of the Commission’s recommendations, in particular the introduction of a graduated range of supported, structured and child-centred agreement-making processes with court as a last resort and less adversarial procedures in the Children’s Court. Amendments to the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) in 2013 and 2014 legislated some of these recommendations.
1 March 2020: The Guardianship and Administration Act 2019 (Vic) came into operation, repealing and replacing the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 (Vic). The new Act adopted many of the VLRC’s recommendations. It includes decision-making principles that administrators and guardians must consider when making decisions for a represented person. This is a shift from imposing decisions on represented persons in their best interest to supporting decision making of people with disabilities. Significantly, a person is presumed to have capacity to make decisions with “practicable and appropriate” support.
1 September 2014: The Powers of Attorney Act 2014 implemented a number of the VLRC’s recommendations. In particular it allowed for a new kind of appointment of a person to be known as a ‘supportive attorney’ to support a person with impaired decision making ability to make and give effect to his or her own decisions. This important new legal mechanism, which is a legislative first in Australia, recognises that some people with impaired decision making ability do not need a guardian or administrator but are able to make their own decisions with support.
The Jury Directions Act 2015 (Vic) came into force on 29 June 2015. Many of the Commission’s recommendations were enshrined in legislation.
The 2015 Act stated that jury directions should be as clear, brief, simple and comprehensible as possible. Judges should avoid technical legal language wherever possible, and should only direct the jury on points of law that the jury needs to know. The Act states that the judge need not use any particular form of words.
The changes also simplify and clarify important directions in regard to evidence.
The Jury Directions and Other Acts Amendment Act 2017 (Vic) (assented 29/8/17, commenced 1/10/17) implemented a number of amendments relating to directions regarding the reliability of a witness’s evidence, a witness’s motive to lie, and complainants’ accounts of an alleged sexual offence. It also implemented the Commission’s recommendations that judges can order a jury guide to be given to the jury to help it perform its functions and substituted the term “victims” for “complainants” in jury directions.
In August 2008, a Bill was introduced in Parliament that reflected Model B in the Commission’s report. All parties allowed members of Parliament to make a conscience vote. The Bill was passed in October 2008.
The Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 decriminalised abortion. Under the Act, a woman can access abortion up to a gestational limit of 24 weeks. Beyond the 24 weeks, a medical practitioner can provide an abortion if another medical practitioner agrees that an abortion is appropriate in all the circumstances.
Medical practitioners who object to abortion do not have to provide information to a client, but are required to refer the client to another doctor who can provide the information.
Since the report was tabled, Privacy Victoria, the Community Crime Prevention Unit of the Department of Justice and the Victorian Ombudsman have published guidelines on the use of closed circuit TVs that refer to the guiding principles for surveillance in public places recommended in the Commission’s report.
In 2014 the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) completed a review, Serious Breaches of Privacy in the Digital Era (ALRC report 123, September 2014). In its terms of reference, the ALRC was required to take into account the VLRC’s report. The ALRC was asked to design a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy in the digital era.
24 August 2010: The Civil Procedure Act 2010 (Vic) implemented many of the Commission’s recommendations. The Act aims to facilitate the ‘just, efficient, timely and cost-effective resolution of the real issues in dispute’. Its key reforms include:
- introduce an overarching purpose for the courts and overarching obligations for participants in litigation,
- strengthen the courts’ case management powers, including in relation to expert evidence and costs,
- clarify the courts’ power to control discovery and to refer proceedings to appropriate dispute resolution
- simplify and liberalise the test for summary judgment.
For more information about the Act and an executive summary see Civil Procedure Act 2010 – A Brief Introduction.
At the time the Commission’s report was tabled, a review of Victoria’s equal opportunity law was under way. The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic), enacted in response to that review, largely adopted the Commission’s recommendation to expand the definition of ‘assistance dog’ (although it did not adopt the Commission’s recommendation on the development of a regulatory scheme for training and accreditation).
The definition of discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act now clearly specifies that discrimination that occurs because a person uses an assistance dog is discrimination against the person because of a disability. This is in line with the Commission’s recommendations and federal law.
The Explanatory Memoranda to the Bail Amendment Bill stated: “The Bail Amendment Bill 2010 (the Bill) amends the Bail Act 1977 and the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989, and follows on from the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s (VLRC) Review of the Bail Act: Final Report (2007)…The Government is responding to the VLRC recommendations in two stages. The Bill responds to 40 recommendations and represents the first stage of reforms to Victoria’s bail system. Broadly, the aims of the Bill are to clarify aspects of current bail law, codify some existing practices, and promote efficiencies in the operation of the bail system. The Bill also establishes a new legislative framework for the operation of the bail justice system.”
At the time the Commission was conducting its review, a national review of residential tenancy databases was being conducted by a joint working group of the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs and the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. The national review released its report in October 2006. Many of the recommendations in the national review were influenced by the Commission’s report.
The first recommendation of the Commission’s report was that the regulation of residential databases should be consistent across Australia. This was also a key recommendation from the national review. In 2010 national model legislation was adopted by the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs.
On 28 September 2010, the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2010 amended the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 which incorporated the national model legislation on residential tenancy databases. See Part 10 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, Part 10 commencing 1 September 2011.
Most of the recommendations from the ALRC/NSWLRC/VLRC joint review were incorporated into the Model Uniform Evidence Bill adopted by the Standing Committee of Attorneys General in 2007 and further amended in 2010. Most jurisdictions have amended their evidence laws to bring them in line with the Model Uniform Evidence Bill.
Victoria’s new Evidence Act, enacted in 2008, was based on the Model Uniform Evidence Bill and the Commission’s final report about implementation in Victoria. Subsequent amendments to Victoria’s Evidence Act in 2012 implemented amendments to the Model Uniform Evidence Bill adopted by the Standing Committee of Attorneys General in 2010.
11 December 2008: The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act (ART Act) updated the
laws on assisted reproductive treatment and surrogacy based on the VLRC’s
In 2012, the Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee held an inquiry into access to information by donor-conceived individuals. In response, the government introduced the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Further Amendment Act 2014. These amendments encouraged donors to consent, but do not allow donor-conceived individuals access to identifying information without the donor’s consent. This response is consistent with the Commission’s recommendation on the issue in its report.
1 September 2016: The Adoption Amendment (Adoption by Same-Sex Couples) Act came into effect which enabled same-sex couples to adopt in Victoria, as recommended by the VLRC in the ART report.
The recommendations of the Commission’s 2005 Family Violence Police Holding Powers Interim Report were adopted in the Crimes (Family Violence) (Holding Powers) Act 2006.
In 2008, the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 implemented many of the Commission’s legislative recommendations.
The legislative reforms are supported by whole of government family violence prevention initiatives, including Victoria’s Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and Children – Everyone has a Responsibility to Act, launched in 2012.
The Family Violence Protection Amendment Act 2014 made some changes to the operation of family violence safety notices and interim family violence intervention orders.
Not implemented yet.
In 2006 the Victorian Parliament passed the Surveillance Devices (Workplace Privacy) Act 2006 (Vic), adopting the Commission’s recommendation to prohibit the recording or monitoring of employees in toilets, change rooms, lactation rooms or wash rooms.
16 May 2006: The Victorian government adopted most of the Commission’s recommendations in the Disability Act 2006 (Vic).
In particular, Parts 7 and 8 of the Disability Act implemented the Commission’s recommendations for restrictive practices and compulsory treatment of people with an intellectual disability to be guided by principles, require treatment planning and approval and be subject to review by VCAT.
The Disability Act also implemented the Commission’s recommendation for a clinician with oversight of restrictive practices and compulsory treatment, known as the ‘Senior Practitioner’.
On 21 March 2014, the Commonwealth, State and Territory Disability Ministers endorsed the National Framework for Reducing and Eliminating the Use of Restrictive Practices in the Disability Service Sector.
The National Framework focuses on the reduction of the use of restrictive practices in disability services that involves restraint (including physical, mechanical or chemical) or seclusion.
Many of the Commission’s legislative and system-wide recommendations in relation to sexual offences have been implemented.
In 2006, the Victorian Parliament introduced a number of reforms to both the procedural and substantive law governing sexual offences and the prosecution of those offences in response to the Commission’s report. The legislative reforms are contained in the Crimes (Sexual Offences) Act 2006 and the Crimes (Sexual Offences) (Further Amendment) Act 2006, and the Crimes Amendment (Rape) Act 2007. The reforms resulted in the amendment of existing sexual offences and the procedures regulating the prosecution of sexual offences in a court proceeding.
The government also developed a comprehensive sexual assault reform package to coordinate and deliver system-wide reforms including the:
- establishment of multidisciplinary centres by Victoria Police
- introduction of sexual assault forensic nurses
- introduction of specialist sex offences lists in the Magistrates’ and County Courts
- introduction of specialist prosecutors
- establishment of a child witness service
- establishment of a treatment program for 15–18 year olds
- introduction of a Victims’ Charter.
The Crimes (Homicide) Act 2005 implemented the Commission’s major legislative recommendations, including creating a new offence of defensive homicide as an alternative to murder.
As recommended by the Commission, the Department of Justice commenced a review of the operation of defensive homicide laws in 2010, five years after the introduction of the changes. In June 2014, the government introduced a bill to abolish defensive homicide on the grounds that it was not operating as intended. This was based on evidence that defensive homicide was predominantly being relied upon by men who killed other men in violent confrontations, rather than women who kill in the context of family violence.
In September 2014, the Crimes Amendment (Abolition of Defensive Homicide) Act 2014 came into operation, abolishing defensive homicide, simplifying self-defence and introducing jury directions on family violence.
Bail Act 1977 – Amendments to s 4(2)(c)
In 2005, section 4(2)(c) of the Bail Act 1977 (Vic) was repealed in line with the Commission’s recommendations. The effect was to give courts a broader discretion to take all relevant factors into account when deciding whether to grant bail to a person. The reform was intended to ensure that the bail system operates in a fairer way for Indigenous people, people from newly arrived communities and people with a physical or intellectual disability.
25 October 2005: The Property (Co-Ownership) Act 2005 implemented key recommendations of the Commission’s report. The main purposes of the Act were to amend the Property Law Act 1958 to provide for the transfer of jurisdiction for disputes relating to the co-ownership of land and goods from the Supreme Court and County Court to VCAT; and to amend the remedies available for determining those disputes.
The amendments made the process for resolving disputes about co-ownership more accessible and cheaper, and provided for a wider and more flexible range of remedies for disputes.