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Implementation of reports and impact of work

The ALRC has no direct role in implementing its recommendations. There is no statutory requirement for the Australian Government to respond formally to ALRC reports. However, the ALRC monitors major developments in relation to issues covered in its past reports. It is not uncommon for implementation to occur some years after the completion of a report.

Cover page of Elder Abuse - A National Legal Response - Final Report 131
During 2020–21 the Australian Government took steps to further implement Elder Abuse—A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 131, 2017). The Attorneys-General from each Australian jurisdiction held a public consultation to understand public perceptions of a mandatory national registration scheme for enduring powers of attorney relating to financial matters to reduce the financial abuse of older Australians. This proposal engages and implements Recs 5.1 to 5.3 of the ALRC report. On 27 July 2020, the Attorneys-General agreed in-principle to implement recommendation Rec 8.1 for a national register of enduring documents.

On 23 September 2020, the Law Council of Australia released a guide to help practitioners identify and address elder abuse. This adopted Rec 8.1 of the ALRC report and provides instruction as to how to effectively manage working with at-risk clients to avoid elder abuse, as well as illustrating the warning signs and the importance of record keeping.

On 1 April 2021, the Government introduced the Serious Incident Response Scheme to help prevent and reduce Elder Abuse in residential aged care centres. This implements Rec 4.1, and goes some way to implementing Rec 4.2, of the ALRC report.in creating a commission to receive and address notices about serious incidents.

Further, the Federal Budget contained a targeted capital gains tax exemption for granny flat arrangements which implemented Rec 6.2 of the ALRC report. In addition, the Department of Health is implementing Rec 4.7 having commenced development of an Aged Care Centre for Growth and Translational Research to develop best practice to care for senior Australians, and training for aged care providers.

Cover page of Family Law for the Future - An Inquiry into the Family Law System - Final Report 135
In March 2021, the Government published a response to the final report of Family Law for the Future—An Inquiry into the Family Law System (ALRC Report 135, 2019). Of sixty recommendations advanced by the ALRC, the government agreed with 14, agreed in part or in principle with 19, noted 21, and disagreed with six. In May 2021, the then Federal Circuit Court of Australia conducted a recruitment for Indigenous Family Law Liaison Officers in a number of registries. The purpose of these positions is to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander litigants and families through the family law system. This is an implementation of Rec 45 from the Review of the Family Law System.

Cover page of Pathways to Justice - An Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples - Final Report 133
The Commonwealth, and state and territory, governments again took steps to implement a number of recommendations from Pathways to Justice—Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ALRC Report 133, 2018). In 2021, the Northern Territory implemented Rec 16.2 of the Final Report with the Northern Territory Aboriginal Justice Agreement 2021–2027 transforming the way justice services are constituted and delivered in the Northern Territory to improve justice outcomes for Aboriginal Territorians. Similarly, on 1 July 2020, the Commonwealth Government agreed key “Closing the Gap” targets with State and Territory Governments, and peak bodies, specifically to reduce incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in response to Rec 16.1.

Further, in April 2021, the New South Wales Select Committee on the High Level of First Nations People in Custody and Oversight and Review of Deaths in Custody recommended, as its first recommendation, that the NSW Government commit to an implementation of all outstanding recommendations within state jurisdiction from Pathways to Justice—Inquiry into the Incarceration Rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ALRC Report 133, 2018).

The ALRC continues to have impact beyond the Commonwealth. This year for example, Making Inquiries: A New Statutory Framework (ALRC Report 111, 2010), in particular the recommendations in Part D, was partially adopted by the Tasmanian Government with the passage of the Justice Miscellaneous (Commissions of Inquiry) Act 2021 (Tas) on 22 April 2021, which amends the Commissions of Inquiry Act 1995 (Tas). This act now gives increased powers, and stronger guarantees of procedural fairness to Commissions of Inquiry in Tasmania.