Apply for VCAT's consent for a special medical procedure

VCAT can consent to a special medical procedure being carried out on a person with a disability who is incapable of giving their own consent. This does not apply to emergency treatment, which may be carried out without consent.

We can consider applications regardless of whether the person is the subject of a current guardianship or administration order.

A guardian or the person responsible cannot consent to a special procedure.

A special procedure includes:

  • any procedure intended or reasonably likely to make the patient permanently infertile
  • termination of a pregnancy
  • any removal of tissue for transplantation to another person.

A patient is considered incapable of consenting to a special procedure if:

  • they are incapable of understanding the general nature and effect of the procedure
  • they are incapable of indicating whether or not they consent to the procedure.

Cases VCAT can hear

VCAT can hear applications for consent for a special medical procedure to be carried out on a person with a disability who is incapable of giving their own consent.

Cases VCAT cannot hear

We would not make an order for consent if the patient is likely to be capable, within a reasonable time, of giving their own consent.

  • To make an application at VCAT fill in the application form. You must also provide evidence to support your application. Specifically, you must provide evidence that the patient is incapable of giving consent to the proposed procedure. You must give a copy of your application and supporting documents to the person, as well as their primary carer, nearest relative, the proposed/existing guardian or administrator. There is no fee for this type of application. Learn more about applying to VCAT.

  • Before your application proceeds to hearing, notices of hearing are sent to all parties, including the person subject to the application, advising the date, time and place of the hearing. We must also give notice of your application to the Public Advocate and any other person we consider has a special interest in the affairs of the person. The Public Advocate is generally asked to make pre-hearing inquiries and may contact you, the person and their doctor. The Public Advocate generally submits a written report to VCAT. Learn more about what happens when VCAT opens a case.

  • An application for consent to a special procedure is always decided at a hearing. Prepare early so you can present the best possible case. Make sure give others enough time to assist you to prepare and appear as witnesses at a hearing. Read more about how to prepare for your final hearing.

    For information about our accessibility services and other support services, please see customer support at VCAT.

  • It is your responsibility to attend the hearing and to assist the person who is the subject of the application to attend where it is possible. The hearing gives all parties a chance to give and hear evidence, ask questions, call witnesses and provide supporting documents. Learn about what happens on final hearing day.

  • The VCAT member generally gives their decision and the reasons, and makes an order at the end of the hearing. Learn about the types of orders we can make. If you want the reasons in writing, make the request within 14 days of the hearing date. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.

Professional representation

Many people choose to represent themselves at VCAT. 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. For more information, see professional representation at VCAT.

Remember your reference number

VCAT gives you a reference number for your case. Use this number whenever you call or write to us or the other people involved in the case.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public. We have limited authority to restrict access to information. Learn more about applying for confidentiality.

If you are involved in a case and want to see what is on the VCAT file, you must make a request in writing for disclosure. A VCAT member considers your request and notifies you of the outcome. Read more about applying for disclosure.

It is an offence to publish details of a matter before the Guardianship List that identifies or could lead to the identification of a party.

If you need assistance at VCAT (including interpreters, hearing loop, video or telephone links, or family violence support) please contact us as early as possible so we can assist you. Learn more about customer support at VCAT.