Going to VCAT

Going to VCAT

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) is the tribunal that can make decisions about guardianship orders and administration orders. 

VCAT will conduct a hearing to decide whether to appoint a guardian or administrator. Hearings are listed in VCAT’s Guardianship List.  

About VCAT

VCAT is like a court but, instead of judges or magistrates, it has VCAT members who listen to legal cases and decide what should happen.

VCAT is less formal than a court and it does not cost money for you or the applicant to go, unless you are paying for a private lawyer to help you. You do not need a lawyer, but a lawyer can help. 

Preparing for the VCAT hearing 

Before going to your hearing, you should read the documents that VCAT will be considering. This will include the application form and any reports or letters from doctors or support workers. These documents will explain the reasons the applicant says you need a guardian or administrator. 

Think about what you want to say to VCAT and what other people will be saying to VCAT:

  • Do you think you can make reasonable decisions about your finances or lifestyle matters? 
  • What particular things is the applicant saying that you disagree with? 
  • Are there things about your finances or lifestyle matters that you think you need help with?
  • Is there someone you trust, other than the administrator or guardian, who can help you with those things? 

Think about how you can show VCAT what you want. Some things that may help you include: 

  • writing down what you want to say at VCAT and practising it aloud 
  • finding someone to go to the hearing with you for support 
  • asking a doctor or support worker who is supportive of you to write a letter for VCAT

You can get help from Victoria Legal Aid. Our lawyers can help you understand the paperwork and give you advice about your case. They may also help you get ready for the hearing and possibly speak for you at VCAT on the day. Find out how you can get help.

Going to the VCAT hearing 

Getting there 

If you have a hearing at VCAT, you will be sent a letter that tells you where to go and when you need to be there. 

You should get to VCAT at least 30 minutes before the hearing starts and go to the registry counter. The staff there will tell you in which room the hearing will be held. 

Inside the hearing room 

When the VCAT member is ready to hear your case, you and anyone else who is involved in your case will enter the hearing room. Everyone will sit at the table.

The VCAT member will come into the room. When this happens, everyone should stand and then sit down again. 

The VCAT member will normally come and sit at the table with you. Sometimes, they will sit up at a higher table. The VCAT member will tell you who they are and explain what the hearing is about. Everyone will then be asked to introduce themselves. 

The VCAT member will listen to everyone and ask them questions. You will get a chance to speak. Anyone else involved in your case will also get the chance to speak. If you disagree with anything they say, you can ask the VCAT member for a chance to respond. 

After listening to everyone, the member will make a decision about your case. The VCAT member will write down their decision in an order. The order must be followed. 

Asking for more time 

You should try to be prepared to go ahead with your hearing on the day. 

However, sometimes you might need more time to get ready or you may not be able to attend your hearing. You can ask VCAT to put off the hearing to another day. This is called an ‘adjournment’. If you need to ask for an adjournment, you should do so at least five days before your hearing. 

If the VCAT member agrees to adjourn (put off) your case, you will need to come back on another day. If the VCAT member does not agree to adjourn your case, your case will go ahead.  

If the VCAT member does not adjourn your case, you can ask the VCAT member to make a temporary (‘interim’) guardianship order or administration order. This order does not last as long as a final order and you will have time to get ready before your next hearing. 

If you are unhappy with the VCAT decision 

If you are not happy with the VCAT decision, act quickly. There are time limits. See Changing or challenging an order

Get help

Find out how you can get help with guardianship and administration.

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