Administration orders

Administration orders

An administration order is a legal document that gives a person (called an ‘administrator’) power to make decisions on behalf of another person about financial affairs. This includes money, property and some legal matters.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) can only make an order if:

  • you do not have decision-making capacity to make decisions about financial matters because of your disability
  • you are in need of an administrator and
  • an order will promote your personal and social wellbeing.

A disability includes a neurological disability (such as autism spectrum disorder), an intellectual disability, a mental illness, an acquired brain injury, dementia or a physical disability.

It is important to remember that you are presumed to have decision-making capacity unless VCAT decides on the evidence that you lack capacity.

Important note – Administration laws changed on 1 March 2020. The information on this page is about administration orders under the new laws. If you had an administrator appointed to make decisions on your behalf prior to 1 March 2020, you may wish to speak to a lawyer about how the recent changes to administration laws affect you. Find out how you can get help with guardianship and administration.

How administration orders work

If VCAT makes an administration order, an administrator can make decisions about the financial matters that are set out in the order.

There are two types of orders:

  • a supportive administration order – if you agree, and VCAT decides that you are able to make financial decisions with practicable and appropriate support, then VCAT may appoint a ‘supportive administrator’. A supportive administrator cannot make decisions on your behalf. However, they can support you to make and give effect to your own decisions about financial matters.
  • an administration order – an administration order will list what decisions the administrator can make about your finances. These may include:
  • looking after your finances, including your bank accounts and investments
  • deciding how you spend and save your money
  • deciding what you do with your property
  • taking legal action on your behalf that could affect your finances
  • entering into contracts on your behalf
  • paying off any debts or fines.

Role of an administrator

Even if an administrator is appointed by VCAT, you still get a say about your financial and legal matters. An administrator must give effect to your will and preferences (if known), unless this would cause you serious harm.

Your administrator must consult with you when they make decisions that affect you. The law says they must also:

  • exercise their powers in a way that is least restrictive of your ability to decide and act as is possible
  • protect you from abuse, exploitation and neglect
  • advocate on your behalf
  • act honestly, diligently and in good faith
  • support you to make your own decisions where possible
  • help you to become able to make your own decisions again.

An administrator must also keep good records of how your financial affairs are being managed, and help you get better at looking after your financial affairs.

An administration order does not give an administrator power to make decisions about lifestyle matters such as where you live and where you can work. Only a guardian can make those types of decisions, under a guardianship order.

Applying for an administration order

If a person is concerned that you are having difficulty making decisions about your finances, they may ask VCAT to make an order. This could be a family member or a support worker. The person who asks VCAT to make an order is called the ‘applicant’.

The applicant fills in a VCAT application form about you. They must include details of the financial or legal matter about which the order is sought and state their reasons for making the application. The applicant will also attach a report from a doctor or social worker that says:

  • what disability you have
  • how your disability impairs your ability to make  decisions about the financial matters listed in the application
  • why you need an administrator to make those decisions for you.

The applicant must give you a copy of the form and the report. If they do not give you a copy of the form, you can ask VCAT for a copy.

The applicant and VCAT will tell you when your hearing will take place

Hearings at VCAT about administration orders

VCAT must have a hearing to decide whether or not to appoint an administrator.

If VCAT is satisfied that you are capable of making financial decisions with support, then VCAT may appoint a ‘supportive administrator’. A supportive administrator cannot make decisions on your behalf. However, they can support you to make and give effect to your own decisions about financial matters. VCAT can only appoint a supportive administrator if you agree.

VCAT will only make an administration order if there is no other less restrictive option available. Before appointing an administrator, VCAT must be satisfied that:

  • you do not have decision-making capacity to make decisions about financial matters because of your disability
  • you are in need of an administrator to make decisions about the financial matters listed in the application and
  • an order will promote your personal and social wellbeing.

You are presumed to have decision-making capacity unless VCAT decides on the evidence that you lack capacity.

You have decision-making capacity if you are able to:

  • understand the information relevant to the decision
  • understand the effect of the decision
  • retain that information long enough to make the decision
  • use or weigh that information in the process of making the decision
  • communicate that decision and your views in some way. 

You also have decision-making capacity if it is possible for you to make the decision with practical and appropriate support.

When deciding whether you are in need of an administrator, VCAT must consider:

  • your will and preferences
  • whether decisions about the financial matters for which the order is sought may be better dealt with informally or could be reasonably made through negotiation, mediation or similar means
  • the wishes of any primary carer or relative of yours and
  • the need to preserve existing relationships that are important to you.

For tips and more information about VCAT hearings, see Going to VCAT.

Disagreeing with administration orders

If you disagree with an administration order being made by VCAT about you and would like more information about your what options you may have, see Changing or cancelling an order.

If you are unhappy with your administrator

An administrator must follow your will and preferences when making decisions for you unless this would cause you serious harm.

If you are not happy with your administrator's decisions, try talking to them. If that doesn't help you can make a complaint.

If your administrator is a ‘consultant’ at State Trustees you can:

  • complain to someone higher up at State Trustees
  • make an complaint online to the Victorian Ombudsman.

The Victorian Ombudsman can only look into complaints about government organisations, like State Trustees.

With other administrators, you will have to go back to VCAT and ask for a re-assessment hearing, where you can ask for a different administrator or to have the order cancelled.

It is against the law for an administrator to use an administration order dishonestly to obtain a financial gain for themselves or another person. In some circumstances, you may be able to seek compensation for any loss caused by an administrator who has breached their duties under the law.

Get help

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

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