Inquiry into Powers of Attorney

Report

The Law Reform Committee's final report for the Inquiry into powers of attorney was tabled in Parliament on 31 August 2010.

report cover for the Inquiry into Powers of Attorney

The report is now available for download as a pdf pdf file 4.77 Mb.

The report contains 90 recommendations aimed at streamlining and simplifying power of attorney documents. The report strikes a balance between providing better safeguards against abuse and ensuring that power of attorney documents remain easy to use.

 

The pdf Government Response 156.92 Kb to this report was tabled in Parliament on 10 February 2011.

Content and News

On 4 December 2008 the Legislative Assembly gave the Law Reform Committee terms of reference to conduct an Inquiry into powers of attorney. Powers of attorney are legal documents that help people plan for future financial, health and lifestyle needs. They allow a person (called a 'principal') to choose someone (a 'representative') to make decisions on his or her behalf. They are a useful way to plan for future care if a person becomes unable to make decisions for him or herself, for example because of an accident or illness.

The Committee completed its inquiry in August 2010.

Final report

The final report for the Inquiry into powers of attorney was tabled in Parliament on 31 August 2010.

cover for powers of attorney report

The report is now available for download as a pdf pdf file 4.77 Mb.

The report contains 90 recommendations aimed at streamlining and simplifying power of attorney documents. The report strikes a balance between providing better safeguards against abuse and ensuring that power of attorney documents remain easy to use.

The Committee's Chair, Mr Johan Scheffer MLC, issued a media release on 31 August 2010.

The Government Response to the Committee's report was tabled in Parliament on 10 February 2011 and is available for download as a pdf pdf file 156.92 Kb.

Other evidence

The Law Reform Committee held five public hearings between October 2009 and March 2010. Transcripts of evidence from the public hearings can be found on the transcripts page. The Committee also received 75 written submissions. Submissions accepted by the Committee can be viewed on the submissions page.

If you have any questions relating to the inquiry, please contact the Committee on (03) 8682 2851 or vplrc@parliament.vic.gov.au.

Transcripts of Evidence

The Committee may invite witnesses to a public hearing, to make representations directly to the members of the Committee and to answer questions put by the Committee. This allows the Committee to follow up points of interest and concern and often lets people who have made a submission amplify points and give additional information.

Public hearings are recorded and a transcript of evidence prepared, to ensure that the Committee has an accurate record of proceedings.

Following is the program of past public hearings and the transcripts of evidence given for the Inquiry into Powers of Attorney:

  1. 1 October 2009
  2. 22 October 2009
  3. 14 December 2009
  4. 17 December 2009
  5. 30 March 2010
    Seniors' Forum
    Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities Forum

Click on the link to read or download evidence from the public hearings. To view or print the pdf documents, you will require the Adobe Acrobat® PDF Reader, which can be downloaded free of charge from Adobe.

Thursday 1 October 2009 - Room G2, 55 St Andrews Place, East Melbourne 3002

  1. pdf Mr Julian Gardner , former Public Advocate 69.10 Kb
  2. pdf Law Institute of Victoria 80.52 Kb
    Ms Laura Helm, Policy Adviser
    Ms Jeni Lee, member, Elder Law Committee
    Mr David Davis, member, Elder Law Committee
    Ms Lynne Barratt, member, Elder Law Committee
  3. pdf Professor Terry Carney , Faculty of Law, The University of Sydney 58.38 Kb
  4. pdf Federation of Community Legal Centres 70.60 Kb
    Ms Lucie O’Brien, Policy Officer
    Mr Dale Reddick, Gippsland Community Legal Service
  5. pdf Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) 63.25 Kb
    Mr John Billings, Deputy President, Guardianship List

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Thursday 22 October 2009 - Room G2, 55 St Andrews Place, East Melbourne 3002

  1. pdf Office of the Public Advocate 88.29 Kb
    Dr John Chesterman, Manager, Policy and Education
  2. pdf State Trustees 68.36 Kb
    Mr Tony Fitzgerald, Managing Director
    Ms Angela Burton, General Manager, Personal Financial Solutions
    Mr Alistair Craig, Senior Corporate Lawyer
  3. pdf Trustee Corporations Association of Australia 54.06 Kb
    Mr Lachlan Wraith, Senior Manager, Trusts & Estates, Equity Trustees Ltd
    Ms Claire Hausler, Manager, TCL Legal Services (Vic) Pty Ltd
  4. pdf Seniors Rights Victoria 63.23 Kb
    Ms Dahni Houseman, Seniors Rights Policy Officer
    Ms Lauren Adamson, Acting Manager and Principal Solicitor, Seniors Rights Legal Clinic
    Ms Elizabeth Samra, Seniors Rights Lawyer
  5. pdf Council on the Ageing (COTA) Victoria 52.19 Kb
    Ms Debra Parnell, Policy Officer
    Ms Janet Wood, President, COTA Board
    Ms Kris Spark, Manager – Information, Seniors Information Victoria
  6. pdf Elder Rights Advocacy 41.66 Kb
    Ms Belinda Evans, Senior Advocate
  7. pdf Association of Independent Retirees 35.73 Kb
    Mr David Fara, Deputy President
  8. pdf Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine (Vic Division) 54.53 Kb
    Dr Kristen Pearson, President
    Dr Sue Connelly, Committee member
  9. pdf Alzheimer’s Australia Vic 46.07 Kb
    Ms Jill Linklater, Policy and Advocacy Officer
    Ms Pamela Hore, Member, Consumer Reference Group, Volunteer on Helpline
    Ms Margaret Brown, Adjunct Research Fellow, Hawke Research Institute, University of South Australia (by telephone)
  10. pdf The Victorian Bar 54.35 Kb
    Mr Robert Shepherd, Barrister
    Ms Jacqueline Stone, Manager, Legal Policy and Government Relations

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Monday 14 December 2009 - Room G2, 55 St Andrews Place, East Melbourne 3002

  1. pdf St Vincent’s Hospital 53.79 Kb
    Ms Lucy Cordone, General Counsel
    Ms Paula Chatfield, Legal Counsel
  2. pdf Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner 41.65 Kb
    Ms Helen Versey, Privacy Commissioner
  3. pdf Alfred Health 45.80 Kb
    Mr Stephen Taffe, Legal Counsel, Alfred Health
    Ms Sally Costar, Manager, Patient and Family Services, Caulfield Hospital
  4. pdf Victorian Section of the College of Clinical Neuropsychologists of the Australian Psychological Society 51.97 Kb
    Mr Matthew Hughes, Principal Neuropsychologist, The Alfred Hospital, and Acting Chair
    Mr David Stokes, Senior Manager Professional Practice, Australian Psychological Society and Neuropsychologist
    Mr Luke Delaney, Chair, “Guidelines for Preparation of Neuropsychological Reports for the Guardianship List of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal” Working Party and Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist, Alcohol Related Brain Injury Australian Services
    Ms Elizabeth Mullaly, Member of College of Clinical Neuropsychologists Course Approval Sub-Committee, and Manager of Psychology Services, Caulfield Hospital
  5. pdf Aged and Community Care Victoria 46.50 Kb
    Mr Paul Zanatta, Manager, Community Care, Policy and Small Rural Health
    Ms Janice Hadgraft, Manager, Residential Services
  6. pdf Mental Health Legal Centre 40.06 Kb
    Ms Catherine Leslie, Legal and Policy Officer

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Thursday 17 December 2009 - Room G2, 55 St Andrews Place, East Melbourne 3002

  1. pdf Palliative Care Victoria 57.68 Kb
    Mr Kevin Larkins, Chief Executive Officer
    Ms Jenny Chapman, Chief Social Worker
  2. pdf Victoria Legal Aid 47.29 Kb
    Ms Robyn Mills, Acting Director of Civil Law Services
    Ms Sarnia Birch, Acting Deputy Manager, Regional Offices
    Ms Toni Higgins, Specialist Mental Health, Human Rights and Civil Law
  3. pdf Australian Bankers' Association 50.83 Kb
    Mr Ian Gilbert, Director, Retail Policy
    Ms Diane Tate, Director, Financial Services, Corporations, Community Policy
  4. pdf Royal District Nursing Service 48.80 Kb
    Mr Stelvio Vido, Executive General Manager, Strategic and Support Services
    Ms Nikki Isaks, Senior Social Worker
    Ms Leonie Schween, Manager, Legal and Privacy
  5. pdf Carers Victoria 44.05 Kb
    Ms Gill Pierce, Manager, Policy and Research
    Ms Penny Paul, Coordinator, Carer Consultations
    Ms Marianne Dalton, Parent carer of an adult with a capacity disability
  6. pdf Australian Medical Association Victoria 40.16 Kb
    Mr David Goldberg, Solicitor and Senior Adviser
    Ms Madelene Fox, Policy Assistant

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 Tuesday 30 March 2010 - Legislative Council Committee Room, Parliament House, Spring Street, East Melbourne 3002

  1. pdf Mr Adrian Cohen 48.56 Kb 
  2. pdf Victorian Coalition of Acquired Brain Injury Service Providers 45.19 Kb
    Mr Tom Worsnop, Chair
    Ms Kerry Stringer, Community Partnerships Manager, Summer Foundation
  3. pdf Seniors' Forum 133.89 Kb 
    Mr John Nicolaou, Reservoir Greek Elderly Citizens Club Inc and Northern Federation of Ethnic Senior Citizens
    Ms Dorothy Trezise, Director, United Way Geelong
    Ms Margaret Scott Simmons
    Ms Val Johnstone
    Ms Pat Long
    Ms Dorothy Davies
    Ms L. Richmond
    Mr D. Constantine
    Ms Suzanne Birch
    Ms Jean Thomas
    Ms Janice Reynolds
    Ms Janet Horn
    Mr John Hogan
    Ms Pat Whaley
    Mr Keith Whaley
    Mrs Joyce Jeffs
    Mr Gary Haley
    Ms Margot Fitzpatrick, Policy Officer, Council on the Ageing Victoria
  4. pdf Professor Peteris Darzins, Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Monash University, and Director of Geriatric Medicine, Eastern Health 55.84 Kb
  5. pdf Elder Abuse Prevention Association 46.59 Kb
    Ms Lillian Jeter, Executive Director
  6. pdf Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities Forum 105.79 Kb 
    Ms Jaklina Michael, Cultural Liaison Coordinator, Royal District Nursing Service
    Ms Eva Wakim, Victoria Arabic Social Services
    Ms Rosemarie Draper, Aged Services, New Hope Foundation
    Ms Marion Lau, Deputy Chair, Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria
    Mr Ross Barnett, Director, Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria
    Ms Eve Poludniak, Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre
    Ms Naderah Edwards, Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre
    Mr Santosh Kumar, President, Northern Region Indian Seniors Association of Victoria
    Ms Elizabeth Ignys, Manager, Advocacy, Action on Disability in Ethnic Communities
    Mr Manuel Asuncion, Vice-Chair, Filipino Community Council of Victoria Inc
    Ms Virginia Landrito-Balanon, Community Aged Care Packages Case Manager, Filipino Community Council of Victoria Inc
    Ms Poppy Hearn, Senior social worker, Australian Greek Welfare Society

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Media Release

 

THE POWER TO PROTECT YOUR FUTURE: Streamlining power of attorney laws

From Johan Scheffer MLC, Chair
31 August 2010

The Victorian Parliament’s Law Reform Committee today released a report calling for simplification of laws that help Victorians to plan for their future.

“Most Victorians don’t give much thought to what will happen when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves because of an accident or illness,’ said the Committee’s Chair, Mr Johan Scheffer MLC.

“At some stage in their life, many people will need someone else to make decisions for them about important matters such as finances, healthcare and lifestyle. Powers of attorney are one way that the law helps people plan for these situations.”

The Committee found that existing power of attorney laws are complex and confusing and that these arrangements are not as widely used as they could be.

 “Some Victorians do not know what a power of attorney is. Others may not understand the difference between the different types of documents or how to go about making one,” said Mr Scheffer. “Even when a person has made a power of attorney, there is no guarantee that an organisation such as a bank or aged care facility will accept it.”

The Committee found that while most power of attorney arrangements work well, they are sometimes used to perpetrate abuse, particularly financial abuse of older people.

“Most abuse of powers of attorney is perpetuated by a close family member. It is a real breach of trust,” stated Mr Scheffer.

The Committee’s report strikes a balance between providing better safeguards against abuse and ensuring that power of attorney documents remain easy to use.

The report makes 90 recommendations, including:

  • producing simplified forms to make it easier to create powers of attorney
  • clarifying the powers and duties that representatives have when acting on behalf of another under a power of attorney
  • allowing people who make powers of attorney to appoint a ‘personal monitor’ to oversee the actions of their representatives
  • empowering the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to award compensation if a power of attorney is abused
  • creating criminal offences for people who abuse powers of attorney
  • establishing a compulsory registration system to assist with the location, verification and validation of enduring power of attorney documents
  • conducting a state-wide community education campaign to promote use and recognition of power of attorney documents.


“Victoria’s ageing population means that powers of attorney will be even more important to more people in the future,” stated Mr Scheffer. “The Committee’s recommendations will empower more Victorians to plan for their future with ease and confidence.”

The Committee conducted an extensive consultation process and Mr Scheffer thanked all those who participated in the Inquiry.

The Victorian Government has six months to table a response to the Committee’s recommendations in the Parliament.

A copy of the Committee’s report can be obtained from the Committee’s website http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/lawreform or by contacting the Committee on 8682 2851.

For further information or comment contact Ms Kerryn Riseley, Executive Officer, Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee: 8682 2850

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YOUR FUTURE, YOUR DECISION: Inquiry into Powers of Attorney

From Johan Scheffer MLC, Chair
12 June 2009

The Victorian Parliament’s Law Reform Committee today called for public input into a review of laws that help Victorians plan for their future.

“Most Victorians don’t give much thought to what will happen when they are no longer able to make decisions themselves because of an accident or illness,’ said the Committee’s Chair, Mr Johan Scheffer MLC.

“At some stage in their life, many people will need someone else to make decisions for them about important matters such as finances, healthcare and lifestyle. Powers of attorney are one way that the law helps people plan for these situations.”

The Committee is examining how existing power of attorney laws can be streamlined and simplified.

“Currently there are four different types of powers of attorney documents in Victoria,” said Mr Scheffer. “You need to sign two different documents if you want to give someone power to look after both your finances and your healthcare. It is very confusing.”

The Committee is also considering how to minimise abuse of powers of attorney.

“There are anecdotal reports of pressure on people to grant powers of attorney, and of attorneys misusing their powers,” said Mr Scheffer.

“Victoria’s ageing population means that these documents are going to be even more important to more people in the future,” stated Mr Scheffer.

According to ABS data, nearly 20% of Victoria’s population is aged over 60 years, with this percentage predicted to increase significantly over the next twenty years.

Mr Scheffer urged all interested individuals and organisations to make a submission to the inquiry.

The terms of reference and information about how to make a submission to the Committee are available on the Committee’s website at www.parliament.vic.gov.au/archive/lawreform.

For further information or comment contact Ms Kerryn Riseley, Executive Officer, Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee: 8682 2850.

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