The process followed by the Commission during an inquiry can vary depending on the scope of the terms of reference and how much time the Commission has to complete it. In general, the process involves the following stages:
- The project starts: research and scoping. The Commission receives a reference from the Attorney-General or begins a community law reform project. The terms of reference of the project define its scope.
- Initial research and preliminary consultations. Commission staff begin to research and consult. This is background work to help the Commission identify the most important issues.
- An expert panel / consultative committee is formed to provide advice to the Commission on the subject of the project. The expert panel provides input but does not formulate recommendations, which is the role of the Commission.
- A consultation paper and call for submissions is published with questions about whether the law should be reformed and how, calling for the community to make submissions to the inquiry. In some cases the Commission also publishes information papers providing background and explaining the issues.
- Consultations. The Commission holds extensive consultations with affected parties and interested members of the community across Victoria, especially with disadvantaged and marginalised groups.
- Submissions are received and considered. Submissions are the views of the community about what should be done. Anyone can make a submission, as an individual or on behalf of an organisation. Submissions can be made online, in writing, or by speaking to a staff member. They will be published online unless they are marked confidential.
- Report. The Commission writes a report, including recommendations to reform the law and/or make changes to procedures, and delivers it to the Attorney-General by the due date.
- Tabling. The Attorney-General tables the report in Parliament within 14 sitting days. The Commission then publishes the report on its website and in hard copy. The Commission’s work on the project is now complete.
- Government response. The government decides whether to implement the recommendations. There is no set timeline for action, and the government does not have to provide a formal response to the report.
- Changes to the law. If the government introduces new legislation, Parliament decides whether the legislation is accepted, amended or rejected. If new laws are passed by Parliament, the law commences on the date specified in the legislation.