Respond to an application – Guardians and administrators
Appoint a guardian or administrator, a supportive guardian or supportive administrator, reassess or cancel these appointments. When you get a notice from VCAT, find out what this means for you and decide what to do.
What the notice means
If you’ve received a notice from us, someone has made an application that involves you to VCAT – the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
You are called a party. The person who made the application is the applicant.
As a party, you can participate in the hearing and have your views heard.
People who aren't parties and only receive notices (for example, a relative or primary carer) can still attend a hearing and have their views heard.
What’s a party?
A party in a guardians and administrators case is someone who will be directly affected by a VCAT decision.
A party can be:
- the applicant
- the proposed represented person
- the proposed guardian or administrator
- any existing guardian or administrator
- any other person VCAT joins as a party.
Is the application about you?
If there’s an application to appoint a guardian, administrator or someone to support you to make decisions, find out what this means for you.
Get help and advice before you come to VCAT
These organisations may be able to help you.
Why you should come to VCAT
It’s very important that you don’t ignore the application that involves you. At VCAT, you can have your say and explore options to get the right outcome for the person the application is about.
If you don’t come, we can make a decision that aﬀects you or the person the application is about.
Find out more about how we make decisions.
How much VCAT costs
There is generally no fee in a guardianship and administration case.
You need to pay your own out-of-pocket expenses such as travel or time off work.
Whenever you email or write to VCAT you must also send a copy to all other parties involved in the case.
What happens next
1 You've received a notice from VCAT
Go to next step.
2 Read and understand the documents
Carefully read and understand the notice and the application that involves you.
If you haven’t received documents from the applicant that support their application (for example a copy of the application and the medical report) within seven days of receiving the notice from us, contact the applicant directly. Their contact details are in the application.
If you need legal help and advice there are organisations that can help you.
4 Find out how we make decisions
Wherever it’s possible, we promote supporting people to make decisions for themselves rather than having decisions made for them.
If this isn’t possible because a person doesn’t have decision making ability, we make decisions that focus on protecting or fulfilling the needs of the person.
When we decide if a person needs a guardian or administrator, we must:
- consider what’s important to the represented person
- assess alternative dispute resolution options
- consider the wishes of the primary carer or relative.
5 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.
You must send all documents that support your case to the other parties and to VCAT. If you are attending by phone or videoconference, make sure you do this by email and by the deadline we tell you in your notice.
6 Ask for any support services you need
We offer services such as interpreters and security, as well as disability, family violence and Koori support.
7 Check the hearing details
Check the time and date you need to attend VCAT. This is shown on the notice we send you. If you are coming to VCAT in person, look at the location and plan how to get there.
Most hearings are held at the William Cooper Justice Centre. 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 Upcoming hearings after 4.30pm on the day before your hearing.
8 On the day
At a final hearing, all parties can present their case, ask questions and give evidence in front of a VCAT member. People with a direct interest 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.)
Find out how to join the call or videoconference.
If you are coming to VCAT in person
Bring any evidence you want to use to explain your point of view and a list of issues that you want to discuss.
If you are coming to VCAT, find out about what to expect on the day – including how to behave, and how the hearing works.
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 Upcoming hearings or tell a staff member at the counter that you’ve arrived for your hearing.
- Go to the hearing room and be ready to present your case.
- 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.
9 Get an outcome
At the hearing, the VCAT member makes a decision and gives an order.
They usually tell you what the decision is, and the reasons for it, at the end of the hearing.
An order tells parties how the case has been decided and any action they must take. All parties must follow VCAT's orders.
You can ask for reasons in writing 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.
We regularly review 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.
- 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
Should I get a lawyer?
VCAT cannot give legal advice. If you do choose to get legal advice, you will need to pay any costs.
If you want to talk about what you should do, you can access free or low-cost legal advice or find a private lawyer.
If you want a lawyer or other professional representative to speak on your behalf at VCAT, let the other party know in writing before the hearing and ask permission when the hearing starts. You will need to explain why.
For some case types you have an automatic right to representation.
If the claim is for goods and services under $15,000, we generally don’t allow a lawyer or other professional representative to speak for you at VCAT.
If you do choose to get legal advice, you’ll need to pay any costs.
How can I see a VCAT file?
You can look at most VCAT files at our Melbourne office at 55 King Street, Melbourne if you arrange it with us. If you’re not part of the case then you must pay a fee.
If your request is approved, you look at the file in a private room with security cameras. You can’t remove any documents, but you can take photos with your phone, or buy a photocopy card for $2 from our Customer Service counter and make copies for 60 cents a page.
1. Download the form
Download the File and Document Access Request form or PDF and send it to us (see the last page for instructions).
If you’re a journalist, download the Media Request form and send it to us.
2. Make a booking
Bookings are for 1 hour, Monday - Friday, 9.30am - 4pm. Call us on 1300 01 8228 or email us.
Find the right email address for your type of case
(If you need more than one hour or want to bring more than two people with you, let us know when you book.)
3. Pay the fee (if it applies to you)
If you’re not part of the case you need to pay a fee.
Fees for other services Corporate Standard Concession View a file where the person isn't a party
(fee per file)
$120.00 $120.00 $44.40
Pay when you come to VCAT between 9am - 4pm with:
- credit card - MasterCard or Visa
- a bank cheque, solicitor firm cheque or money order - made out to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. We don’t accept personal cheques.
What happens if I miss my hearing?
What happens if you miss the hearing depends on if you’re the applicant or the respondent.
- If you’re the applicant and you don’t come to the hearing, the hearing can’t go ahead and your application may be dismissed or struck out
- If you’re a respondent and you don’t come, VCAT may make a decision that affects you and can be enforced by a court. For example, the member could make an order for costs against you.
If you have a good enough reason for not coming, and you didn’t have someone come for you, you may be able to apply for a review and rehearing (called ‘reopening an order’).
You need to make this application within 14 days of finding out about the order. There’s no guarantee that VCAT will agree.
What support can I get on the day at VCAT?
We offer a range of support services including interpreters, disability, security, family violence and Koori support.
Make sure you let us know what support you need to early as possible - when you apply to VCAT or get a notice from us.
If you’ve been in touch with us about support before you come to VCAT, see our customer service staff at the counter or meet the support person at the location you’ve agreed on before the hearing.
If you are coming to VCAT at King Street, Melbourne and you need support or information, you can visit the free services on Level 5 before the hearing:
- Court Network volunteers offer free and independent support, information and referral services. They don’t give legal advice.
- Victoria Legal Aid duty lawyers can help if you are unsure about your options or need advice about your claim.
You can also contact us by phone, email, post or in person. Our staff can help answer questions about the VCAT process, but they can’t give you legal advice about your case or the outcome.
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.
Can I get the hearing venue changed in a case about guardians and administrators?
In a case about guardianship or administration, the interests of the person with a disability are the most important.
You can ask for the hearing venue to be changed. But when we make a decision the most important factor is making sure the venue is easiest to attend for the person the application is about (the represented person or proposed represented person). We don’t always agree.