Guardianship and Administration

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Experts' reports

To inform members' decisions as to whether or not to impose an administration or guardianship order or whether to amend or revoke such an order, VCAT requires an expert's report supporting the relevant application. 

If you are not able to provide a second medical opinion disputing disability (that is, showing that the person is able to make reasonable decisions for themselves and there is no need for a guardian or administrator), then VCAT will almost certainly accept the medical evidence before it put forward by the applicant, which will no doubt conclude that the client does have a disability.

VCAT's preferred form of substantiating reports are those from a medical practitioner or neuropsychologist.  Publicly-funded neuropsychology services are rare and the waiting periods can be lengthy.  One such service available in Melbourne is provided by Arbias, a not-for-profit organisation funded by the Department of Human  

Given the demand for these services, it will often be necessary to apply to VCAT for an adjournment in order to allow time to obtain the required neuropsychology report. An application for an adjournment should be made to VCAT in writing no later than three business days before the scheduled hearing date.  The application should include the VCAT reference number, the scheduled hearing date, the reasons why the adjournment is necessary, an indication of whether or not other interested parties have been informed that an adjournment is being sought and whether or not they agree to it, and a list of any unsuitable dates.  A VCAT "Adjournment request" on the VCAT website (although it is not mandatory to use this form).  

 It is often helpful to send a follow-up letter to Arbias, or any organisation providing similar services, informing them of the adjournment but requesting that the assessment be undertaken a month before the rescheduled hearing date (to allow time for the report to be prepared).  The client may then be given an appointment if a cancellation arises. 

In the lead-up to the client's neuropsychologist appointment, you should prepare the client for what is often a long and tiring assessment process. Arbias, the Brain Foundation of Victoria and Headway Victoria has a publication titled Your Guide to Neuropsychological Assessment that is helpful in this respect

It is also important to check the medical report provided to VCAT by the applicant to see if it is up to date.  VCAT may be relying on old medical reports.  If it is an old report and you do not believe that the person has a disability at the time of the hearing, then obtain a new medical report.

If the person is already known to a particular health professional, then it is also worth talking to them first to assess whether they will give a supportive report before you make a request.  Also, ensure that you discuss what you require in the report with the person who will be providing it and inform them that they may be required to give evidence in addition to their report to VCAT.  This does not mean that they will have to attend in person, but the VCAT Member hearing the application may still wish to speak with them.