VCAT at the NJC
The main hearing venue for VCAT is in Melbourne city, but as a community justice centre for the City of Yarra, VCAT also sits at the NJC to hear disputes involving Yarra residents.
VCAT at the NJC hears tenancy issues involving public housing and private housing tenants and landlords.
On the day
Arrive at 9am and check in with Registry on the 1st floor.
Tuesday and Friday. Check with Registry and see your Notice of Hearing for your hearing date.
Public Housing tenants
If you are a resident of public housing and Housing is taking you to VCAT for breaching the terms of your lease, contact us immediately.
If you haven’t spoken to one of our duty lawyers on the day of your hearing, come in at 9am to ensure we can organise a lawyer for you.
Housing services we provide also include:
- Rent repayment planning assistance
- Crisis accommodation assessment and referrals
- Keep your home assistance
- Rental information and referral for at risk of homelessness
- Long-term housing assistance
- Public housing application assistance
You may heard that you don’t have to attend your hearing. In fact, it’s very important that you attend.
While you're not breaking the law by not turning up, you have rights and your hearing gives you the chance to tell your side of the story.
Your lawyer or housing advocate will be at your side, and can talk for you at the hearing.
Private housing tenants
You may be eligible for means-tested legal advice. For more information contact Victoria Legal Aid on 1300 792 387, weekdays from 8.45 am to 5.15 pm for free information.
VCAT is not a court, and it's not part of the criminal justice system. The tribunal is less formal than a court, and is designed for people to resolve disputes, including building and construction, tenancy. goods and services, planning and environment. Very simply, the aim of civil matters is compensation for a grievance.
Tribunal hearings are adjudicated by a tribunal ‘member’, not, as in criminal matters by a magistrate or judge.
People in the process
- Respondent: you have an application out against you
- Applicant: you have taken an application against someone.
- Tribunal member: hears the issue
Getting the letter to attend VCAT
When you are called to VCAT as the respondent (someone is taking you to VCAT because they claim if you've done something wrong) you'll get Notice of Hearing in the mail.
This letter has details about why Housing is taking you to VCAT, and the time and date of your hearing.
At the hearing
Your hearing takes place in the hearing-room (this is also our Magistrates' Court room)
Applicants and respondent sit at the same table. Lawyers also sit at this table. The Tribunal Member sits at the bench (the higher table).
Addressing the tribunal member
Call the tribunal members ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. If the member’s name is written in front of them, or you know it, address them as Mr or Ms and their family name.
Order of proceedings
You may be asked to make a formal promise to tell the truth. This is done by making an oath or affirmation. The member or a bench clerk will guide you.
The tribunal member will listen to everyone’s side of the story, and ask questions.
Usually the applicant speaks first and the respondent speaks second.
Applicants and respondent can question each other. This is called a cross-examination.
After the decision is made
After everyone has been questioned, the tribunal member will make a decision, called an order. This is a legal document that sets out what has been decided and what actions must be taken.
Orders are written down and everyone gets a copy.
Most hearings are resolved on the day, often under an hour. But a second hearing can take place if needed.
Change of date (adjournment)
VCAT may not agree to change the date of the hearing, even if all the parties consent. VCAT usually only considers exceptional or unexpected circumstances such as death in the family or serious illness.
You should make your request for a change of date as soon as possible. State why you need a new date, and provide documents that support your request such as a medical certificate.
- submit an Adjournment application form ,
- ask the other parties if they consent to the change of date. If they do, ask them to give us written confirmation or complete a Request for consent to an adjournment form and return it to VCAT immediately.
If VCAT agrees to changing the date, you'll be contacted with the details of a new date and time.
For more information about living in public housing contact