​​Appoint a guardian or administrator for an adult with a disability

VCAT can appoint a guardian or administrator for an adult who, because of a disability, is unable to make their own reasoned decisions.

The cause of the disability may be dementia, intellectual disability, mental illness or an acquired brain injury.

Role and responsibilities of guardians and administrators

Guardians and administrators have unique roles and responsibilities. If both roles are appointed, the guardian and administrator must consult each other and work closely when making decisions.

The role of a guardian

A guardian makes personal lifestyle decisions on behalf of a person with a disability, including decisions about their:

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

The responsibilities of a guardian

A guardian must:

  • act as an advocate for the represented person
  • act in the best interests of the represented person
  • take the represented person’s wishes into account when making decisions
  • encourage the represented person, as far as possible, to make decisions and act for themselves
  • protect the person from neglect, abuse or exploitation.

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

Safeguards for represented people and guardians

VCAT can reassess a guardianship order if it is not working in the best interests of the represented person.

The role of an administrator

An administrator makes financial and legal decisions on behalf of a person with a disability, including decisions about:

  • buying or selling property
  • banking and investing
  • paying bills and managing debts

An administrator may be a friend or relative of the person with a disability, or a solicitor, accountant or an organisation. If there is no suitable person or organisation, State Trustees Limited or a private trustee company may be appointed as an administrator.

The responsibilities of an administrator

An administrator must:

  • act in the best interests of the represented person
  • take the represented person’s wishes into account when making decisions
  • encourage the represented person, as far as possible, to make decisions and act for themselves.

Administrator reporting requirements

An administrator is accountable for the decisions they make and must provide annual accounts to VCAT. Learn more about reporting requirements in General advice for administrators.

Cases VCAT can hear

VCAT can hear applications to appoint:

  • a guardian for an adult with a disability
  • an administrator for an adult with a disability.

Cases VCAT cannot hear

VCAT cannot hear applications to appoint guardians or administrators for people under 18 years of age.

  • If you nominate someone other than yourself as a guardian or administrator, you must discuss your application with them before you apply to VCAT. You must ensure the proposed guardian or administrator is willing and able to undertake the responsibilities of the role. You also must seek a medical report that establishes the disability and that it affects the person's capacity to make their own reasonable decisions.

  • To make an application at VCAT fill in the correct application form. You must provide a recent medical report establishing the disability and its effect on the person's decision-making capacity. Learn more about applying to start a case.

  • When you apply, we check your application to ensure it includes all necessary documentation. We may contact you for more information. We may also ask the Office of the Public Advocate to investigate and provide a report. The Office of the Public Advocate may contact you and others involved and may also visit the person, if appropriate. Learn about what happens when VCAT opens a case

  • In rare cases, we may tell you to attend a compulsory conference. These are confidential processes where a VCAT member guides you and the other parties through negotiation to see if the issues in dispute can be resolved without having a hearing and VCAT deciding the matter for you. Read more about resolving a case by agreement.

  • Most cases at VCAT are decided at a hearing. Prepare early so you can present the best possible case. If you did not submit supporting documents with your application, you must ensure VCAT receives them at least three business days before the hearing. You should give a copy of any written submissions to the other parties. If you do not provide the material in time, it might cause a delay to your case. The other parties need time to respond to your claim. Learn more about how to prepare for your final hearing.

  • It is your responsibility to attend the hearing and to assist the person who the application is about to attend. 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 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, you must make the request within 14 days of the hearing date. Read more about what to expect after the final hearing.