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VLRC: From recommendation to legislation

Every Issue

Cite as: (2008) 82(10) LIJ, p. 71

The work of the VLRC has been acknowledged by the inclusion of some of its recommendations in Bills introduced into Parliament and legislative reforms expected later this year.

Recent Bills introduced into the Victorian Parliament that implement some of the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) recommendations from major reports include:

Family Violence Protection Bill

In May this year, Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls introduced the Family Violence Protection Bill 2008 to replace the 21-year-old Crimes (Family Violence) Act.

This followed the VLRC’s recommendation to create a standalone Act that would provide a targeted and cohesive response to family violence.

The VLRC’s final report on family violence included 153 recommendations, many of which are in the new legislation, including:

  • defining family violence to include economic and emotional abuse, as well as other types of threatening and controlling behaviour, for the purpose of seeking intervention orders; and
  • broadening the definition of “family member” to cover contemporary families and include carers of persons with a disability in “family-like” relationships.

Evidence Bill 2008

In June 2008 the Victorian government introduced the Evidence Bill 2008 to bring Victoria into line with uniform evidence laws across Australia.

This followed a joint report in 2006 between the VLRC, the Australian Law Reform Commission and the New South Wales Law Reform Commission.

The Commissions found the Uniform Evidence Act (UEA) was working well but required some fine-tuning.

Their joint recommendations have largely been implemented through proposed amendments to the UEA and are embodied in the Model Uniform Evidence Bill.

Victoria’s Evidence Bill is based on the Model Uniform Evidence Bill. The UEA and the Evidence Bill are drafted in identical terms, except for minor variations, and the numbering of provisions has been kept the same.

Major differences in content are identified by annotations in the text referencing the UEA.

The Evidence Bill is structured in the order in which issues would arise in a typical trial. Some of the areas where the Evidence Bill represents major changes to Victorian evidence law include unfavourable witnesses, hearsay, admissions, the privilege against self-incrimination and warnings.

Legislative reforms

The Victorian government has also given an indication of legislative reforms that are expected to be introduced this year. They are:

ART and adoption

In February this year the government released a Statement of Government Intentions for 2008 which included a commitment to update the law to implement the VLRC’s key recommendations in relation to assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy.

The statement said the government accepted the VLRC’s proposal that the best interests of children born as a result of ART should be of paramount consideration in relation to future legislative change.

The VLRC’s ART and Adoption: Final report was completed in March 2007 and tabled in Parliament by the Attorney-General in June 2007. It contained 130 recommendations to create a new legislative framework that will keep pace with evolving technologies and practices and protect the best interests of children.

Review of the Bail Act

Following the release of the Review of the Bail Act: Final report in October 2007, the government has said its response to the report will be guided by the principles of promoting community safety and upholding the rights of victims, while preserving the rights of the accused who are presumed to be innocent.


Contributed by the VICTORIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION. For further information, ph 8619 8619 or visit the website http://www.lawreform.vic.gov.au.

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