Privacy at VCAT

VCAT stores information about people who have been involved in cases at VCAT. The information is stored in its register (including file numbers, names of parties and a collection of orders of VCAT) and in its proceeding files about individual cases.

The information is given to VCAT by those involved in the case and can include:

  • names
  • address
  • phone numbers.

Generally we keep final orders - the VCAT orders which decide a proceeding - permanently. We generally keep other information for five years.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 1998 (the VCAT Act) governs what information is available. It balances the principle that usually, justice should be administered in public with principles of privacy. This is a summary about who can obtain that information from VCAT.

Information you provide in relation to a case

If you provide information to us in relation to a case we are hearing we are obliged by law to share it with other parties in the case. If you want to provide information to us in confidence you must first apply for confidentiality

Read more in Practice note PNVCAT1 - Common procedures

Who can read VCAT orders?

All orders of VCAT are generally available to the public. Usually, orders name the people concerned but do not record addresses, phone numbers, etc. The decisions may summarise evidence given to VCAT.

Some orders may allow a reader to discover a party’s home address. This is because some orders record the address of a rental property (Residential Tenancies List), address of a home renovation or building (Domestic Building List and Planning and Environment List) address for local government rates (Planning and Environment List) because the address is part of the dispute. As the orders usually also record names of parties, a reader may be able to discover a party’s home address. If this is cause for concern, the party should make application to VCAT asking that orders not allow for a home address to be discovered. This must be done before any orders are made.

Except in the Civil Claims List, Guardianship List and Residential Tenancies List, if a decision includes written reasons for the decision, you can view the decision on the AustLii website. If any person searches the internet using a person's name recorded in the decision, he or she may find the decision.

VCAT also publishes a small number of significant decisions (from any List) on its own VCAT home page.

In individual cases VCAT may restrict or deny access to orders under section 144 of the VCAT Act 1998 (orders on the register) and section 146 of the VCAT Act 1998 (orders on files).

Who can read VCAT proceeding files?

VCAT proceeding files can hold:

  • the original application to VCAT
  • VCAT orders
  • correspondence between the parties and VCAT
  • documents provided to VCAT by the parties.

This information held at VCAT is generally available to any person who identifies a particular case and asks to inspect the file.

The exception created by law are files concerning the Freedom of Information Act 1982 which are not open for inspection or copying by any person (VCAT Act - Schedule 1, Clause 30.).

In individual cases VCAT may restrict or deny access to files under section 146 of the VCAT Act. Parties to cases may apply to VCAT to have access to the proceeding file which concerns being restricted or denied.

Generally requests from a party for access to a file will immediately be granted in all but the Guardianship List. Files about proceedings finalised over a year ago may not be available for a day while the file is retrieved from off-site archive. Requests for Guardianship List files will be referred to a VCAT member to decide access.

Any request from a non-party for access to a file in the following types of disputes will be immediately granted subject to retrieval from archive:

  • Civil Claims
  • Domestic Building
  • General (excluding FOI)
  • Land Valuation
  • Planning and Environment
  • Real Property
  • Residential
  • Retail Tenancies

Any request from a non-party for access to a file in disputes where parties regularly raise concerns about protection of their privacy:

  • Anti-Discrimination
  • Credit
  • General (health records and privacy)
  • Guardianship
  • Occupational and Business Regulation
  • Taxation

will be referred to a VCAT member who will consider whether a direction should be made under section 146(4)(b) of the VCAT Act.

What VCAT tells others about the information it holds

In most situations, apart from publishing decisions, repeating anything said or done at a public hearing of VCAT and allowing the public to search the register and files, VCAT is prohibited by law from disclosing information about you to the public.

Publication and broadcast of information in VCAT orders or files

Unless VCAT orders otherwise, a person must not publish or broadcast or cause to be published or broadcast any report of a proceeding under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 that identifies, or could reasonably lead to the identification of, a party to the proceeding.