Supporting People with Cognitive Disability with Decision-Making

Supporting People with Cognitive Disability with Decision-Making: Any Australian Law Reform Contributions? (PDF)

This paper briefly reviews recent law reform achievements or proposals for supported decision making (‘SDM’) within Australia against benchmarks such as how well the measure translates SDM principles to cater for the routine needs of a person with cognitive impairments, whether it appears robust and workable in practice; and how prone it may be to over-reach or unintended consequences. The paper suggests that ALRC reforms are more principled and better targeted on the more mundane needs of people with cognitive impairments, while recent Victorian initiatives rate poorly in terms of avoiding public misunderstandings and unintended outcomes, despite deserving credit for fidelity to the principles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and being Australia’s first supported decision-making appointments. The paper recommends reconsideration of aspects of these proposals, including the retrograde step of an expedited avenue for appointment of parents as guardians or administrators of children with cognitive impairments on turning 18.

Author(s): Terry Carney
Publication Date: March 25, 2015