Making an application
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) Guardianship List makes guardianship and administration orders under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986.
Anyone can make an application to VCAT if they are concerned that an adult is not making reasonable judgements because of a disability, and there is a need for a guardian or administrator to be appointed.
Before appointing a guardian or administrator, VCAT must be satisfied that the needs of the person cannot be met by any other means less restrictive of the person’s freedom of decision and action.
VCAT will reasses the guardianship or administration order at least every three years to consider whether an order is still necessary.
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.
We encourage you to contact OPA's Advice Service on 1300 309 337 to discuss the matter prior to lodging the application. The service operates between 9am and 4.55pm, Monday to Friday. In an emergency, a duty officer can be contacted after hours on the same number.
For more information about temporary orders, download OPA's fact sheet on temporary orders >.
Victorian guardianship orders can be registered in other states, and interstate orders can be registered in Victoria.
For further information about interstate orders, contact OPA’s Advice Service.
VCAT may ask OPA to investigate matters in the application. While OPA staff collect and provide information, it is VCAT that makes the decision as to whether a guardian or administrator is required and, if so, who will be appointed.
In some circumstances, VCAT may appoint the Public Advocate as a guardian for an adult with disability. The Public Advocate can then delegate the powers and duties in the order to an Advocate Guardian from her office or a volunteer Community Guardian trained and supported by OPA.
VCAT hearings are generally less formal than a court.
In most cases you do not need to be represented by a lawyer or a professional representative. Usually you must ask for VCAT's permission to have someone represent you.
VCAT hearings comply with the principles of procedural fairness; they follow the law and are fair and unbiased. VCAT is not bound by formal legal rules of evidence.
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.
For more information, visit VCAT's website >.
If you disagree with VCAT s decision,you have 28 days (from the original decision) to apply for a rehearing.
For more information read OPA’s fact sheet on VCAT rehearings >.
VCAT can appoint one or more people to be guardian and/or administrator for a person with disability.
VCAT can appoint an individual(s) as guardian, usually a relative or friend of the represented person.
VCAT must be assured that the guardian will act in the represented person’s best interests. VCAT will also consider the wishes of the represented person and family members when deciding who to appoint as guardian.
When there is no suitable or willing person to accept the role, the Public Advocate can be appointed as a guardian, as a last resort.
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.
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 an administrator, it can appoint an organisation as administrator, such as State Trustees Limited or a private trustee company.
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.