After you apply – Guardians and administrators
After you’ve applied to VCAT, it’s important to understand what you need to do and what happens next.
Whenever you email or write to VCAT you must also send a copy to all other parties involved in the case.
As an administrator you’re accountable for the decisions you make and you must submit accounts every year to VCAT.
Apply to VCAT
We contact you and the person the application is about
Due to COVID-19 these timeframes do not apply. It will take longer to hear from us about the next steps in your case.
We assess your application, including the risk and urgency of the situation and contact you within two weeks to:
- talk to the person the application is about to understand what’s important to them and explain the process
- discuss the risks and needs of the represented person
- make practical arrangements to come to VCAT
- give you a date for a hearing
- ask for more information if we need it.
If you’ve applied online using GHub, we tell you about upcoming hearings and when an order has been made by email.
If your application is urgent, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You get a notice
If we can accept your application, you get a notice that gives you the date, time and whether you need to attend by phone, video or in person. The notice explains what you need to do next.
- the spouse or domestic partner of the person the application is about
- their primary carer
- their nearest available relative (for reassessment cases only).
As the applicant you should do as much as you can to make the person you’re applying about is aware of the application and the changes that might happen in their lives if an order is made.
If you’re attending by phone or videoconference
Make sure you send all parties and VCAT the supporting documents you plan to use at VCAT. You must send these by email. The deadline to send documents is in your notice or order.
What's a party?
In a hearing for an application for appointment of a guardian or administrator or supportive guardian or administrator, or a reassessment of an appointment already made, the following people are parties:
- the person making the application
- the person the application is about (proposed represented person, represented person, supported person or proposed supported person)
- the proposed guardian or administrator
- any person we join as a party.
In the hearing for an application for VCAT’s consent to a special procedure, the following people are parties:
- the person who made the application
- the patient
- any person we join as a party
Who is a person with a direct interest?
We need to make sure people with a direct interest in the person you are applying about are aware of the application. Examples of someone with an interest include:
- the person’s relatives and close friends
- their guardian, administrator, supportive guardian, supportive administrator
- their primary carer.
Send your documents
Email a copy of your application and any documents that support your case to every person mentioned in the application and to VCAT by the deadline we tell you in your notice.
Depending on the application, they can include:
- the represented person or former missing person
- any primary carer
- all relatives and parties with a direct interest
- any current administrator and/or guardian.
Prepare your case
You need to be ready to present facts and answer questions about the case. There are documents to organise and decisions to make.
We need information about the will and preferences of the person the case is about (the proposed represented person or represented person). This means we need to know what is important to them, before we make a decision.
This information will help us make the best decision for their situation.
If we decide we need this information before the hearing, we may:
- send a worksheet to the person or get the worksheet online
- contact the person by phone or book an appointment to visit VCAT. Email email@example.com or call 1300 01 8228 (press option 2) Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm
- ask you to tell us what's important to the proposed represented person if you’re a relative, close friend or carer of the person the hearing is about. You can use this worksheet or checklist to guide you. You can address some or all of the questions.
We strongly encourage the person you are applying about to come to VCAT, as the decisions we make affect them. We try to make it as easy as possible for them to come.
In some cases people can attend the hearing by phone or videoconference.
If the person the application is about is unable to leave their hospital or care facility, we may be able to arrange a hearing at the hospital or care facility, in limited circumstances.
As the applicant you must come.
Any other person with an interest in the application can also come.
Ask for any support services you need
To help you and the person you are applying about to attend, we offer a range of support services, including support for people with a disability, interpreters, accessibility, security, family violence and Koori support.
If you haven’t asked when you applied, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 01 8228 (press option 2) Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
Check the hearing details
Check the time and date you need to attend VCAT (if you are coming to VCAT in person). This is shown on the notice we send you. If you’re coming in person, look at the location and plan how to get there.
Most hearings are held in the Melbourne central business district. If there’s a suburban or regional VCAT venue close to the represented person, we hold the hearing there if it’s possible.
You can confirm the time of your hearing at Today’s hearings after 4.30pm on the day before your hearing.
On the day
At a final hearing, all parties can present their case, ask questions and give evidence in front of a VCAT member. Interested parties may also be involved.
If you are attending by phone or video
If you are attending by phone or video make sure you’re ready at the time we give you. (It’s too late to ask to attend by phone on the day of the hearing.)
If you are coming to VCAT in person
Arrive at least 30 minutes early to allow time to get through the security screening (similar to security at the airport) and find your hearing room.
When you arrive:
- Check your room at Today’s hearings or tell a staff member at the counter that you’ve arrived.
- Wait outside the hearing room and be ready to present your case. We call you in when it’s time to start the hearing.
- Speak to a staff member if you have arranged security, disability support, an interpreter, or technology for your hearing.
You’re free to talk about the case before the hearing. You should only talk about confidential information in general terms.
There’s no need to talk about the case before the hearing if it would lead to more issues.
Get an outcome
If you come to a hearing, the VCAT member makes a decision and gives an order. An order tells parties how the case has been decided and any action they must take. All parties must follow VCAT's orders. They usually tell you what the decision is, and the reasons for it, at the end of the hearing.
You can ask the VCAT member to write the reasons for their decision. You must ask for the reasons within 14 days of getting the order.
Sometimes we ask the Office of the Public Advocate (OPA) or another person or organisation (for example, a service provider) to investigate and report about an issue.
When this happens, we usually schedule another hearing after we get the report. You can ask for permission to see a copy of the report.
Tell us if something changes
If you’re a guardian or administrator, tell us in writing if:
- you find out a missing person is alive (either in Victoria or elsewhere) or the missing person has died
- you or the represented person change address
- the represented person dies.
If something else changes, you may want to apply to reassess an order. For example, if:
- there’s no need for it to continue because the represented person has regained decision-making capacity
- it isn’t working for the represented person
- circumstances have changed or there is new information available that affects it
- the guardian, administrator, supportive guardian or supportive administrator is no longer willing or able to continue in the role
- the represented person no longer wants to have a supportive guardian or supportive administrator
- the guardian, administrator, supportive guardian or supportive administrator is not supporting the personal and social wellbeing of the represented person.
Submit a Financial Statement and Plan
If you’re an administrator, complete a Financial Statement and Plan (FSP). You must send this to us 6 weeks after the hearing.
Keep a copy of the plan for your records.
Submit administrator’s annual accounts
If you’re an administrator you’re accountable for the decisions you make. You must submit annual accounts to us and pay an annual administration fee before 30 September each year.
We regularly reassess orders
We reassess the guardianship and administration orders we make regularly. This is to check if circumstances have changed or there’s new information available that affects it.
We usually reassess:
- guardianship orders at least every year
- administration orders at least every three years
- supportive guardianship and supportive administration orders at least every year.
We send you a notice of hearing with details of the reassessment hearing.
Help and support
What happens if I can’t come to VCAT?
If you can’t come to VCAT in person or on the scheduled date for a serious reason (for example, you have a disability, are away or unwell) you have a few options. You can:
- ask to attend by phone VCAT decides if this is fair to all parties.
- apply to change the date (adjourn) two business days before you’re due to come. For a final hearing, you must do this at least five business days before.
- ask for permission to give someone the authority to come in your place. This is different from having a legal or professional representative.
Template of written authority for someone to represent you
Use this template to give someone authority to represent you. We call this person an ‘agent’.
I, <NAME> (or Your Company Pty Ltd, if a company),, a party in the VCAT case reference number xxxxx/20xx wish to be represented at VCAT.
I give permission for <representative's name and occupation> (add 'employed by the company' if you're a company) to represent me.
The agent has sufficient knowledge of the issues in dispute and has my permission to bind me to any settlement.
Signed:______________ Name:______________ Position:______________
How private is a case about guardians, administrators, supportive roles or powers of attorney?
All information you give us for your case is available to anyone who looks at the case file or attends the hearing, including media.
They might get information like your name, contact details and personal information.
By law, with some limited exceptions, we must share information that you give us for your case with other parties. This includes your documents and evidence.
But it’s illegal to publish or broadcast information that could identify a party in a guardianship, powers of attorney or medical treatment case, unless we make an exception.
You can ask us at the start of the case to keep your information confidential. We may not agree to this request.
How do I get an interpreter?
If you need an interpreter, contact us to arrange a professional interpreter (at no cost to you) before the hearing.
Make sure you ask for an interpreter as early as you can.
We connect with a large network of interpreters in 160 languages. Tell us in English what your language is when you ask for an interpreter. It’s best to ask when you apply to VCAT or as soon as possible after we’ve sent you your hearing date.
We don’t allow a relative or friend to interpret for you at a hearing.
How does VCAT support Aboriginal people?
We offer support to ensure VCAT is culturally safe and inclusive for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We can help you with:
- booking a Koori hearing room
- organising a Koori Engagement Officer to attend you hearing or mediation with you
- general information and advice about your case.
Call our Koori Helpline to speak to a Koori Engagement Officer on 0417 516 335, Monday to Friday, 8am-5pm.
Read more about Koori support at VCAT