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    VLRC conducts Consultations to review Mental Health and Inheritance Laws

    Community members in all six provinces across Vanuatu are urged to share their views on proposed reforms to the country’s mental health and inheritance laws.

    The Vanuatu Law Reform Commission (VLRC) has reviewed two old Condominium laws on succession and mental health care.

    The British and French administrations introduced these laws during the Colonial era and have been in place since independence.

    Vanuatu Law Reform Commission officers will soon travel to all six provinces to speak to communities about the proposed law changes, highlighting the importance of the consultations.

    VLRC Secretary Lawson Jack Samuel said the community discussions play a significant role in the VLRC’s legislative review process.

    “The consultation is open to all members of the community, and attendance is encouraged to share their views on the increasing levels of mental health disorders in families, communities, and workplaces,” He said.

    He continues to explain the legal overview of mental health care encompasses voluntary and involuntary mental health care, regulation of treatment, and the rights of patients suffering from mental illnesses.

    These treatments are available both within the community and established institutions. Some examples of treatment orders that a patient may have access to include voluntary mental health care or involuntary mental health care, which may include a community treatment order, an inpatient treatment order, an order for detained persons or prisoners, and a secure treatment order.

    In all these types of treatment, the rights and consent of the mentally ill person are always taken into account.

    Mr Samuel added that the review also covers the establishment of mechanisms to protect patients’ rights and develop policies and services for mental health care.

    The Mental Health Advisory Board, Community Visiting Board, and Mental Health Review Panel are some examples of these mechanisms.

    The transfer of patients based on treatment orders and regular reviews of these orders, including for young people under 18 years, are also discussed. The review also addresses the administration of estates of persons with mental illnesses.

    The Secretary of the VLRC pointed out that the review of succession law in Vanuatu covers issues such as customary law, requirements for a valid will, testamentary property, de facto partners, state ownership of the estate, children born to biological parents, estate administrators, foreign administrators, and dispute resolution.

    The inheritance law review also covers sensitive issues such as matrimonial property, defector rights, matching, stepchildren, illegitimate children, and their rights, which require public input.

    The existing laws governing succession include the Wills Act, the New Hebrides Queens Regulation, and the Succession, Probate, and Administration (1972) (Vanuatu). Additionally, there is the Mental Hospital Act [Cap 38] of 1965 that regulates mental care.

    The VLRC team has started consultations on Efate and offshore islands, Luganville town, Malo Island, and other villages in Santo Sanma Province.

    Another team will begin consultations in Malampa Province for the whole month of May before going to other provinces.

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