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VLRC : Family law in spotlight

Every Issue

Cite as: (2002) 76(11) LIJ, p.81

The Victorian Law Reform Commission is making inquiries into two new references.

On 11 October 2002, the Attorney-General Rob Hulls referred the issues relating to assisted reproduction and adoption to the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC). The Attorney-General’s reference to the VLRC was made to provide an opportunity for the community to be consulted on and influence the discussion of these issues.

Terms of reference

1. The VLRC is to inquire into and report on the desirability and feasibility of changes to the Infertility Treatment Act 1995 and the Adoption Act 1984 to expand eligibility criteria in respect of all or any forms of assisted reproduction and adoption; and make recommendations for any consequential amendments which should be made to the:

  • of Children Act 1974;
  • Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996;
  • Tissue Act 1982;
  • Opportunity Act 1995; and any other relevant Victorian legislation.

2. In making its inquiry and report, the VLRC should take into account, to the extent it decides is necessary or desirable, the following:

(i) social, ethical and legal issues relating to assisted reproduction and adoption, with particular regard to the rights and best interests of children;

(ii) the public interest and the interests of parents, single people and people in same-sex relationships, infertile people and donors of gametes;

(iii) the nature of and issues raised by arrangements and agreements relating to methods of conception other than sexual intercourse and other assisted reproduction in places licensed under the Infertility Treatment Act 1995 (the Act);

(iv) the penalties applicable to persons, including medical and other personnel, involved in the provision of assisted reproduction (whether through a licensed clinic or otherwise); and

(v) the laws relating to eligibility criteria for assisted reproduction and adoption and other related matters which apply in other states or countries and any evidence on the impact of such laws on the rights and best interests of children and the interests of parents, single people, people in same-sex relationships, infertile people and donors of gametes.

3. In addition, the VLRC should consider whether changes should be made to the Act to reflect rapidly changing technology in the area of assisted reproduction.

4. The VLRC is also requested to consider the meaning and efficacy of ss8, 20 and 59 in relation to altruistic surrogacy, and clarification of the legal status of any child born of such an arrangement.

On making its report, the VLRC should consider the relationship between changes to Victorian legislation and any relevant commonwealth legislation including the Family Law Act 1975 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, as well as any international conventions and instruments to which Australia is a signatory.

The VLRC will conduct initial research and then engage in a planning process to determine timelines and methods for community consultation on the project. Visit www.lawreform.vic.gov.au for progress on the inquiry.

FAMILY VIOLENCE

On 1 November 2002, Mr Hulls referred the Crimes (Family Violence) Act 1987 (the Act) for review. In his letter of referral, the Attorney-General noted that as it had been 15 years since the Act came into force there was a need to determine whether differing approaches adopted nationally and internationally to combat domestic violence were appropriate for Victoria.

Terms of reference

The terms of reference are:

1. Consider whether the Act is based on a coherent philosophy and whether, having regard to national and international experience, its approach to family violence is the best approach available to Victoria.

2. Identify any procedural, administrative and legislative changes which may be necessary to ensure that the Act provides the best available response to the problem of family violence.

3. Undertake research to monitor the practical effect of such changes.

4. Develop and/or coordinate the delivery of educational programs which address any lack of knowledge or misconceptions relating to the Act and the existing processes under the Act.

5. Develop and/or coordinate the delivery of educational programs which may ensure the effectiveness of proposed legislative, procedural or administrative reforms.

6. Consider the position of children in applications made under the Act and the intersections between the Crimes (Family Violence) Act, the Children and Young Persons Act 1989 and the Family Law Act.

In conducting this review, the VLRC shall have regard to:

  • the work of the Statewide Steering Committee to Reduce Family Violence.
  • accessibility of the Act and whether it is working effectively for:
  • immigrant women (particularly recent immigrants);
  • indigenous communities; and
  • people with disabilities.
  • the position of children in applications made under the Act and the intersections between the Crimes (Family Violence) Act, the Children and Young Persons Act 1989 and the Family Law Act.

For information on the progress of this reference, visit the VLRC website www.lawreform .vic.gov.au.

NOTES

Contributed by the VICTORIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION. Further information can be found on the VLRC’s website www.lawreform.gov.au or telephone 8619 8619.

merit@liv.asn.au

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