The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) is established under the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998. VCAT’s purpose is to provide Victorians with a low cost, accessible, efficient and independent tribunal delivering high quality dispute resolution.
In relation to human rights, VCAT deals with matters relating to:
- guardianship and administration
- racial and religious vilification
- health and information privacy
- decisions made by the Mental Health Tribunal
- matters pursuant to the Disability Act 2006.
VCAT has a number of "Lists" (sections) which specialise in particular types of cases.
The VCAT Guardianship List receives applications for guardianship or administration, hears the matter and makes orders appointing a guardian or administrator for a person with disability (who is 18 years of age or over) when it is in that person's best interests to do so.
Anyone can make an application to VCAT if they are concerned that a person is not making reasonable judgements because of disability and there is a need for a guardian or administrator to be appointed.
VCAT makes guardianship and administration orders under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986. These orders appoint a substitute decision maker for a person with disability who lacks the ability to make reasonable judgments. VCAT can make these orders if it is in the person’s best interests to do so.
Some orders expire after a period of time set by VCAT (known as self-revoking orders). Orders that are not self-revoking are reassessed by VCAT within three years and can be revoked if no longer needed. Some orders are shorter than three years, and guardianship orders are often one year. If the person represented by a guardian or administrator (the represented person) dies, the order ends.
Temporary orders allow VCAT to act swiftly to protect a person with disability who is unable to make reasonable judgments and who is in urgent need of assistance.
VCAT makes a temporary order when there is no better option to address the situation at short notice. In this emergency situation, VCAT makes a temporary guardianship or administration order for up to 21 days. It can be extended for a further 21 days.
Before the end of the temporary order VCAT must hold a hearing to decide if a guardianship order is needed. For information on temporary orders, see the further information section on this page.
Victorian guardianship orders can be registered in other states, and interstate orders can be registered in Victoria.
For further information about interstate orders, contact the Office of the Public Advocate’s Advice Service.
VCAT hearings are generally less formal than a court so they can provide a more open and accessible environment.
Hearings comply with the principles of procedural fairness (that is, fair and unbiased). VCAT is not bound by legal rules of evidence and does not have to use formal legal processes. Legal representation at VCAT is not necessary. However, VCAT does allow people to use a lawyer.
VCAT hearings are held at a variety of locations across Victoria. When a person cannot travel to a hearing, VCAT can agree to accept evidence over the phone.
If someone disagrees with VCAT s decision, they have 28 days (from the original decision) to apply for a rehearing.
For more information see OPA’s fact sheet on VCAT rehearings.
VCAT can appoint one or more people to be guardian or administrator for a person with disability.
A guardian may be a friend or relative.
An administrator may be a friend, relative, solicitor, accountant, or an organisation such as a private trustee company.
VCAT must be assured that the guardian or administrator will act in the represented person’s best interests and is competent to do so.
VCAT considers the wishes of the represented person and family members in deciding who to appoint as a guardian or an administrator.
If VCAT decides there is no suitable person available to act as guardian or administrator, it can appoint the Public Advocate as guardian and an organisation as administrator, such as State Trustees Limited or a private trustee company.
The Public Advocate can delegate the powers and duties in the order to an OPA Advocate Guardian or a volunteer Community Guardian trained and supported by OPA.
The Public Advocate is not appointed as an administrator.
When appointed guardian, the Public Advocate works cooperatively with the represented person's administrator or financial attorney, if such appointments have been made, in order to ensure that the person’s best interests are met.
OPA’s Advice Service can help you decide whether guardianship or administration is necessary, and what supporting material is required for the VCAT application. The Guardianship List at VCAT has online interactive application forms for guardianship or administration. Alternatively, download the form and complete by hand, or contact VCAT by phone to request an application form be mailed to you. Attach any required documents and lodge the application online or mail to VCAT.
VCAT will set a hearing date when it receives the application. Applications can be heard more urgently if required. Most other applications are heard within 30 days.
Other forms and guides relevant to VCAT applications for guardianship and administration can be found on the VCAT website.