A guardian makes decisions about lifestyle issues for an adult who is unable to make those decisions because of their disability.

We can appoint a guardian for a person who lives in Victoria. We do this by making a guardianship order. Guardianship orders are usually for a short time and give the guardian limited powers.

Where to get advice

The Office of the Public Advocate can give you more advice about guardianship and administration. They promote and protect the rights of people with disability. 

What it means to be a guardian

A guardian makes personal lifestyle decisions for a person with disability. This includes decisions about:

  • their living arrangements
  • work arrangements
  • medical treatment
  • access to people and services.

A guardian may be a friend or relative of the person with disability. If there’s no suitable person, we can appoint the Public Advocate as a guardian.

Duties of a guardian

As a guardian for a represented person, you must:

  • follow the principles we describe on this page
  • be an advocate for them
  • encourage and assist the person to develop their capacity to make personal decisions
  • protect them from neglect, abuse or exploitation.

You must always:

  • act honestly, diligently and in good faith
  • use reasonable skill and care
  • not use the position for profit
  • avoid taking action if there is, or may be, a conflict of interest, and
  • not share confidential information gained as a guardian, unless allowed by the guardianship order or by law.

If you have power to make medical treatment decisions for the person, you must comply with the Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 when making those decisions.

If you become aware that the person has died, you must report this as soon as possible by writing to VCAT.

The duties of a guardian are outlined in section 41 of the Guardianship and Administration Act 2019

    Come to an information session

    We run regular, free information sessions throughout the year at VCAT. If you’re a new guardian or administrator, come and ask questions about your responsibilities, what to do when things change and more.

    Go to events for more details

    General principles

    You must follow these principles when making decisions and acting as guardian:

    As a guardian, you need to find out the ‘will and preferences’ of the person – that is, what’s important to them.

    What’s important to the person must guide the decisions made for them, as far as practical.

    The guardian must act in the way that least restricts the person’s ability to make and act on their own decisions, given the situation.

    If necessary, you must support the person, as far as practical, to:

    •  make and take part in decisions affecting them
    •  express what’s important to them
    •  develop their capacity to make decisions.

    The general principles are outlined in section 8 of the Guardianship and Administration Act 2019

    Making decisions

    Decisions you make for the represented person must follow these guiding principles:

    • You must try to make decisions based on what’s important to them, if known, as far as practical and appropriate.
    • If the person cannot tell you what’s important to them, you must try to work this out. You need to use all available information to make the best decision you can in the situation. This includes asking their relatives, close friends and carers.
    • If you cannot work out what’s important to the person, you must act in a way that promotes their personal and social wellbeing.
    • If the person has a companion animal, you need to act in a way that recognises how important the animal is to them and any benefits the animal gives them.
    • You can only disregard what’s important to the person if it is necessary to protect them from serious harm.
    • These guiding principles are outlined in section 9 of the Guardianship and Administration Act 2019

    What we consider when we decide if a person needs a guardian

    When something’s not working

    We can reassess a guardianship or administration order if it is no longer working for the people involved.

    Apply for a reassessment

    Make an application

    Find out what you need to do to make an application and how long it takes. 

    Related pages

    When there’s a VCAT application about you

    Find out what this means, how you’re involved, and what happens next.

    How we make decisions

    Find out how VCAT makes decisions in cases about guardians and administrators.

    Types guardianship and administration orders

    We can make different types of orders about guardians and administrators, including urgent orders.