Guardianship orders

Guardianship orders

A guardianship order is a legal document that gives a person (called a ‘guardian’) power to make decisions on behalf of another person about lifestyle matters. This may include decisions about accommodation, health care and access to services. In some cases, there may be more than one guardian (called ‘joint guardians’). 

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

  • you have a disability
  • you are unable to make reasonable decisions about lifestyle matters because of that disability
  • you need somebody to help you make decisions about your lifestyle matters.

A disability includes an intellectual disability, a mental illness, an acquired brain injury, dementia or a physical disability.

How a guardianship order works

If VCAT makes a guardianship order, a guardian can make decisions about your lifestyle matters.

There are two types of orders:

  • a plenary guardianship order lets a guardian make decisions for a person like a parent would for a child
  • a limited guardianship order states exactly what decisions a guardian can make on behalf of a person. These decisions can include:
    • where you live
    • what medical, dental and other health care you receive (with some exceptions)
    • what support services you receive
    • where you work.

Role of a guardian

A guardian must make decisions that are in your best interests. A guardian will consult you when they make decisions that affect you. The law says they must:

  • protect you from abuse, exploitation and neglect
  • advocate on your behalf
  • encourage you to make your own decisions where possible
  • help you to become able to make your own decisions again.

A guardianship order does not give a guardian power to make decisions about your money. Only an administrator can help you look after your money, under an administration order.

Even if a guardian is appointed by VCAT, it does not mean you do not get a say about your lifestyle matters. Your guardian must speak with you about the decisions they are making.

Applying for guardianship orders

If a person is concerned that you are having difficulty making reasonable decisions about lifestyle matters, 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 attach a report from a doctor or social worker that says:

  • you have a disability
  • your disability impairs your ability to make reasonable decisions about lifestyle matters,
  • you need a guardian to make those decisions for you.

The applicant must give you a copy of the form and the report. If the applicant does 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 guardianship orders

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

VCAT will only make an order if it is in your best interest. Before making an order, VCAT must also consider your wishes, your family’s wishes, and whether your needs can be met in a way other than appointing a guardian.

If VCAT makes an order, it will appoint a guardian.

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

Disagreeing with guardianship orders

If you disagree with a guardianship 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 guardian

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

If your guardian is Office of the Public Advocate you can:

The Victorian Ombudsman can only look into complaints about government organisations, like the Office of the Public Advocate.

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

Get help

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