"I want to support a family member"

You can help someone who can no longer make decisions about money or where they live. Gary applied to VCAT to become his father’s guardian and administrator.

When someone can’t make decisions

Gary and his extended Koori family live near Mildura. His dad, Andrew, has always lived on country.

Six months ago, Andrew had a stroke. He struggles to look after himself and is unable to make decisions about his money. His doctors say he needs to live in aged care.

His family worry he’ll be sent away. There aren’t many aged care options where they live.

Andrew doesn’t want to be far from home. His family want to support him and are worried his wishes won’t be considered.

Support your family member

If a person can no longer make decisions for themselves you can apply to become their guardian, administrator or both.


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Understanding the options

A hospital worker helps explain the options to Gary, Andrew’s son.

If the family and the doctors can’t agree on where Andrew should live, a guardian might be needed.

If Gary becomes Andrew’s guardian, he can make decisions to support his dad’s wishes. Andrew can stay close to family and country.

But because Andrew can’t pay his bills anymore, he needs an administrator to manage his money.

The hospital worker helps Gary apply to VCAT.

Identify when you apply

Our Koori Support Team reaches out to support Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders at VCAT.

You can also call or text our Koori Helpline on 0417 516 335 to speak to a Koori Support Officer.


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Koori support at VCAT

The VCAT Koori Support Team learns about the application. A Koori Support Officer calls Gary to check if he needs any support before the hearing.      

They explain that at the hearing everyone sits around a table. The member listens to everyone and considers what’s important to his dad Andrew.

The Koori Support Officer:

  • gives Gary tips on how to prepare
  • asks for a phone hearing, so Andrew and the family can attend
  • works with the member to make the hearing culturally safe.
Options to attend

We can help you come to your hearing in person, by phone or videoconference. If you come to your hearing, you can have your say.

Prepare for your hearing

Watch a video to find out what happens at a hearing.

Download transcript


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At the hearing

On the day, many family members phone in. So does the Koori Support Officer for support.

Gary, Andrew’s son, feels nervous, but he’s prepared what he’s going to say.

He explains his dad Andrew’s cultural beliefs and that he wants to support dad’s choices for his wellbeing. He shows that Andrew can’t manage his money and that he wants to look after him.

The member lets everyone have their say and listens to the arguments. They review the medical report from the doctors. They consider Andrew’s wishes, and his connection to country.

The member also calls Andrew’s doctors in the hearing, so they can all talk about options together.

A fair process

We always focus on what’s important to your family member and their wellbeing.


Getting the support they need

The doctors and the family agree to a solution where Andrew can get the care he needs and still live close to family and country.

Andrew no longer needs a guardian, but the member finds that he still needs someone to make decisions about money for him.

Based on what was said in the hearing, the member appoints Gary as Andrew’s administrator. They explain:

  • how long he is an administrator for
  • the types of decisions he can make and his responsibilities.

This information is in the order Gary and everyone involved in the case receives.

Don’t understand the order?

Ask the member to explain it to you in the hearing. Or call the Koori Helpline on 0417 516 335.

Gary is relieved that his dad's wishes are respected. He also understands that when the administration comes to an end, VCAT considers what happens next. This might mean coming to a hearing again.

Gary saves the Koori Helpline number. He plans to get in touch if he has any questions.


Get help and advice

Becoming a guardian or administrator comes with responsibilities. There are also other options, depending on the support someone needs.

It’s a good idea to get advice about your family’s situation before you apply. These organisations can help you for free.

Office of the Public Advocate

Advice on supporting a person if they can no longer make decisions. Call 1300 309 337.

Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service

Legal advice for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. Call 1800 064 865.


Start your application

Before you start your application, we step you through the process and tell you about application fees, timeframes and documents you need. You pay when you submit your application.

If you are experiencing financial hardship, you may be eligible for fee relief. You can apply for fee relief at the same time as you submit your application.

Help and support