Children's Services Act 1996 (review)

This page provides general information and should not be considered as legal advice. Seek legal advice if you are unsure about your legal rights. Be aware that the law can change.

VCAT can review certain decisions of the Secretary to the Department of Education and Training made under the Children's Services Act 1996 relating to those who operate and participate in the operation of Children's Services – primarily related to child care.

Cases we can hear

You may be able to apply to VCAT for a review if you are a person aggrieved by a decision of the Secretary to:

  • refuse to grant an Approval of Premises or a licence
  • refuse to renew or vary a licence
  • suspend or cancel a licence
  • amend a Service Approval associated with a Children's Service relating to:
    • varying, revoking conditions in the Service Approval,
    • imposing a new condition or restriction on the Service Approval, or
    • amending the Service Approval in another way
  • vary, revoke or impose conditions on a Service Approval associated with a Children's Service about
    • whether the variation, revocation or imposition of a condition should be confirmed, or
    • whether the suspension should be withdrawn or confirmed.
  • suspend a Service Approval associated with a Children's Service
  • cancel a service approved relating to a Children's Service.

Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

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 make your application 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, the statement of reasons is given to you or you are informed that a statement of reasons will not be given.

You may be able to apply for an extension to this time limit.

What does VCAT consider when making a decision?

The Act does not specifically state matters that VCAT must take into account, however we generally consider:

  • whether the applicant Definition The person or organisation applying to VCAT. has been found guilty of a serious offence
  • whether the applicant and each of the associates of the applicant is a suitable person to be concerned in or associated with providing Children's Services
  • whether the applicant's property or premises will be suitable to provide Children's Services, if applicable
  • whether the applicant and each of the associates of the applicant is of good character having regard to character honesty and integrity
  • whether in the case of an applicant who is not a natural person, the applicant has satisfactory ownership, trust or corporate structure
  • whether the applicant is of sound and stable financial background
  • whether the applicant has any business person or body that is not of good repute having regard to character, honesty and integrity
  • whether each director, partner, trustee, executive officer and secretary or any other person associated or connected with the ownership or administration or management or operation of a business of providing services for children is a suitable person to act in that capacity
  • any previous experience in providing Children's Services.

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 remit (send back) the matter for reconsideration by the decision maker Definition A person who makes or has made a decision under legislation that gives them this authority. giving directions or recommendations
  • invite the decision-maker to reconsider their decision at any time during the case.

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

You do not need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. If you wish 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 free or low-cost legal services that may be able to assist you.

Need help with your application?

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

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

Seek legal help if you are unsure about your options or need advice about your claim. The following services may be able to help 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. For more about applying for confidentiality.