Children's Services Act 1996 (review)

VCAT can review certain decisions by the Secretary to the Department of Education and Training about those who operate and participate in the operation of children's services – primarily about child care.

We have the power to review these decisions by the regulatory authority under the Children's Services Act 1996.

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.

Cases we can hear

You may be able to apply to VCAT for a review of any of the following decisions made by the Secretary.

Decisions made under an internal review

  • Refusing to grant a provider approval or service approval
  • Amending (or refusing to amend) a provider approval or service approval
  • Imposing a condition on a provider approval or a service approval
  • Suspending a provider approval or service approval without a show cause process, where there is an immediate risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of a child
  • Refusing to consent to the transfer of a service approval
  • Revoking a service waiver
  • Issuing a compliance direction or compliance notice

Other decisions

  • Suspending or cancelling a provider approval or service approval after a show cause process
  • Giving a prohibition notice
  • Refusing to cancel a prohibition notice

You can also apply to VCAT to review other decisions made under the Act. You should refer to the Children's Services Regulations 2020.

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.

Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

Section 135 of the Children's Services Act 1996

Use the notice of decision you received to help you complete the VCAT application form, and attach a copy of the notice to your application.

Time limits

You must make your application within 30 days from the day on which you are notified of the decision or internal review decision.

VCAT cannot extend the time to apply for internal review of decisions.

You may be able to apply for an extension to this time limit for a review of all other decisions.

What can VCAT order?

VCAT can:

  • confirm the original decision, in which case the original decision will stand
  • amend the decision
  • set aside the decision and substitute our own decision.


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.

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 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 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.