Adoption Act 1984 (review)

This page provides general information and should not be considered as legal advice. Seek legal advice if you are unsure about your legal rights. Be aware that the law can change.

VCAT can review certain decisions made by the Secretary to the Department of Human Services, a principal officer of an approved agency or the State Central Authority under the Adoption Act 1984.

    Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

    If you have a decision document, use it to help you complete the VCAT application form and attach a copy of the document to your application.

    Cases VCAT can hear

    You may be able to apply to VCAT to review a decision if you are a person whose interests are affected by a decision of:

    The Secretary or a principal officer of an approved agency: 

    • refusing to approve a person as a fit and proper person to adopt a child
    • deferring the making of a decision to refuse or approve a person as a fit and proper person to adopt a child
    • revoking the approval of a person to adopt.

    The Secretary:

    • refusing to approve an organisation as an agency
    • revoking or suspending an agency’s approval 
    • refusing to renew an approval of an agency.

    The State Central Authority:

    • refusing to accredit a body as an accredited body 
    • suspending or revoking the accreditation of an accredited body 
    • refusing to renew the accreditation of an accredited body.

    Time limits

    You must make your application within 28 days after the later of the day on which:

    • the decision was made, or
    • if you have requested a statement of reasons under the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act, the statement of reasons is given to you or you are informed that a statement of reasons will not be given.

    You may be able to apply for an extension to this time limit.

    What can VCAT order?

    Unless the relevant Act of Parliament gives us different powers, VCAT can:

    • affirm the original decision, in which case the original decision will stand
    • vary the decision
    • set aside the decision and substitute our own decision
    • set aside the decision and remit (send back) the matter for reconsideration by the decision-maker giving directions or recommendations
    • invite the decision-maker to reconsider their decision at any time during the case.

    Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

    You do not need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. If you wish to be represented by a lawyer or a professional advocate, usually you must ask for VCAT's permission. Be aware that the regulatory body in most cases uses legal representation.

    Find free or low-cost legal services that may be able to assist you.

    Need help with your application?

    We can explain the application process and what the form is asking you for. Contact us to get support.

    We cannot give you legal advice. This means we cannot tell you what to write in your application or recommend how to get the outcome you want.

    Seek legal help if you are unsure about your options or need advice about your claim. The following services may be able to help you:

    Access and privacy

    VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

    VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality. For more about applying for confidentiality.