Modernising Adult Protection in an Age of Choice
This article examines the effect that two important legal and social policy developments are having on adult protection laws and practices in Australia. The first concerns the increasing reach of human rights norms, which encourage minimal reliance to be placed on substitute decision-making arrangements, such as adult guardianship, in favour of providing greater support for people to make and implement their own decisions. The second concerns the consumer choice focus of current aged care and disability reforms in Australia. While both these developments will lead to improvements in the lives of many people, they also present regulatory challenges when it comes to protecting the well-being of at-risk adults, especially adults with significant cognitive impairments or with significant mental ill health. The article draws on work undertaken as part of a Churchill Fellowship and contains reform suggestions that seek to improve our protection of at-risk adults in an era increasingly characterised by freedom of choice.