Adoption Act 1984 (review)

VCAT can review certain decisions made by the Secretary of the Department of Justice and Community Safety, a principal officer of an approved agency or the State Central Authority under the Adoption Act 1984.

This page provides general information and shouldn't be considered legal advice. Seek legal advice if you're unsure about your legal rights. Be aware that the law can change.

Cases VCAT can hear

You may be able to apply to VCAT to review a decision if you're a person whose interests are affected by a decision of:

The Secretary or a principal officer of an approved agency: 

  • refusing to approve a person as a fit and proper person to adopt a child
  • deferring the making of a decision to refuse or approve a person as a fit and proper person to adopt a child
  • revoking the approval of a person to adopt.

The Secretary:

  • refusing to approve an organisation as an agency
  • revoking or suspending an agency’s approval 
  • refusing to renew an approval of an agency.

The State Central Authority:

  • refusing to accredit a body as an accredited body 
  • suspending or revoking the accreditation of an accredited body 
  • refusing to renew the accreditation of an accredited body.

Cases we can't help with

We can’t accept:

  • some cases where one party lives in another state or is a Commonwealth government organisation
  • cases heard under federal law instead of Victorian law.

Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

Section 129A of the Adoption Act 1984

Documents you need to apply

If you have a decision document, use it to help you complete the VCAT application form and attach a copy of the document to your application.

Time limits

You must apply within 28 days from when:

  • the decision was made, or
  • if you have requested a statement of reasons under the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998, the date the statement of reasons is given to you or are informed that a statement of reasons will not be given.

If you apply outside of the time limit, VCAT may extend the time for making an application. You must ask for an extension of time by indicating this on the ‘extension of time’ question of the application form and briefly explaining why your application was late.

VCAT will ask the decision maker if they agree to any extension. If the decision maker doesn't agree, VCAT may hold a preliminary hearing before deciding whether to grant an extension.

What can VCAT order?

Unless the relevant Act of Parliament gives us different powers, VCAT can:

  • affirm the original decision, in which case the original decision will stand
  • vary the decision
  • set aside the decision and substitute our own decision
  • set aside the decision and send back the matter for reconsideration by the decision maker giving directions or recommendations
  • invite the decision maker to reconsider their decision at any time during the case.


We can explain the application process and what the form is asking you for. Contact us to get support.

We can't give you legal advice. This means we can't tell you what to write in your application or recommend how to get the outcome you want.

Seek legal help if you're unsure about your options or need advice about your claim.

Make an application

You may have to pay a fee to apply to VCAT to review a decision. Learn more about fees or apply for fee relief.

Print-friendly application form

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

You don't need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. If you want to be represented by a lawyer or a professional advocate, usually you must ask for VCAT's permission. Be aware that the regulatory body in most cases uses legal representation.

Find legal services that may be able to assist you.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality.