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obligations, the bill preserves ACAT’s ability to make guardianship and management orders in circumstances where a guardianship or management order is the only practical way to ensure that the relevant decision is able to be made and recognised.
The bill does not prevent the appointment of a guardian or manager if a person could make their own decisions with supports. Instead, the bill makes it a factor for the ACAT to consider but not a factor that would stop them from being able to appoint a guardian or manager if other criteria are satisfied.
In addition, we recognise that the role of guardian or property manager will often be taken on by caring family members who accept this responsibility voluntarily out of love for their child or relative. In most cases, family members or friends will be the best guardians or managers, as they know the person well and are part of their lives. The Public Trustee and Guardian takes this role only as a matter of last resort. Accordingly, while the bill will introduce requirements to facilitate supported decision-making approaches, it will not impose an unreasonable burden on guardians and property managers. Guardians and managers will only be required to provide supports as far as is reasonably practicable. This will look different in every circumstance.
The bill progresses action 4.8 of the disability justice strategy. The strategy aims to achieve equity and inclusion for people with disability in the justice system. In doing so, it recognises that equality before the law is not the current reality for too many ACT residents with disability. With this bill we take one step towards changing that. This is an important step to facilitating supported decision-making in the ACT.
An effective supported decision-making model requires both policy and programs that support a reform to the legislation, a shift in culture and a change in practice. The bill takes us further towards this goal. There are opportunities for further reform and looking at ways in which institutions and service providers can reduce reliance on substitute decision-making. The next steps on this journey will be the subject of further policy work and consultation.
This bill builds on previous reviews and stakeholder consultation. In May 2022 approaches to supported decision-making were considered in a facilitated conversation with people with disability, as part of public consultation on the ACT’s new disability strategy. This consultation provided important evidence of the challenges associated with the current guardianship and management framework and the importance of the legislative recognition of supported decision-making.
The Office for Disability, the ACAT, the ACT Human Rights Commission, the ACT Public Trustee and Guardian, and disability advocacy organisations have also been involved in the development of these reforms. I would like to thank all these passionate participants for their work on these reforms and their commitment to meaningful change to the lives of people with a disability.
The supported decision-making framework recognises that adults with impaired decision-making ability should be assisted to make decisions with support, based upon their will, their preferences and their rights, and to be protected by appropriate safeguards. Supported decision-making is consistent with the United Nations