The TAC will generally communicate with the client's parent or legal guardian for all issues related to the claim until the client turns 18 years of age. When most clients turn 18 years of age they will be responsible for their own communication with the TAC.
This policy provides information about the way the TAC communicates with clients who were under 18 years of age when the accident occurred, and how that communication might change when they turn 18 years of age.
Guardian - a person appointed to make personal and life-style decisions on behalf of a person when they are unable to do so themselves. They are appointed under s22 of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 by the Guardianship List of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Administrator - a person appointed to make legal and financial decisions on behalf of a person when they are unable to do to themselves. They are appointed under s46 of the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986 by the Guardianship List of VCAT.
Authority to Release Information (an 'authority') - the signed authority allows the TAC to obtain records or information which may be needed to assess which benefits are able to be paid to a client.
Representative - a person who the client has nominated to communicate with the TAC on their behalf, such as a friend or relative. This term should not be confused with legal representation.
What happens when a client turns 18 years of age?
When a client turns 18 years of age, and it can be ascertained that they can represent themselves, the TAC will start to communicate directly with the client. This includes where the client had a guardian because they were under 18 years of age.
Where the client has a representative or has an appointed administrator the TAC will continue to communicate with the representative or administrator.
Where the client has an appointed guardian because they are unable to make decisions, the TAC will continue to communicate with the guardian.
This means that:
- the TAC will be unable to provide any information to the parent or guardian (appointed because the client was under 18 years of age) without prior consent from the client
- if a client will continue to receive benefits after turning 18 years of age, the TAC will write to the client requesting:
- they sign an Authority to Release Information, and
- provide bank account details if these details change
- benefits the client is entitled to will be paid directly to the client and not the parent or guardian.
Are there any circumstances when the TAC will communicate directly with clients who are under 18 years of age?
Clients aged between 15 and 18 years of age can ask the TAC in writing:
- to communicate directly with them, or
- to communicate with a representative
Where requested to do so, the TAC will communicate directly with the client, or their nominated representative.
For clients who are under 15 years of age, the TAC will always communicate with the client's parent or legal guardian.
Who will the benefits be paid to for clients aged between 15 to 18 years of age?
For a client who is aged between 15 and 18 years of age, benefits are generally paid to their parent or legal guardian, on behalf of the client.
If a client between 15 and 18 years of age has requested the TAC to communicate directly with them or a representative, then most benefits will be paid directly to the client. However, some benefits, such as minor's additional benefits can only be paid to the parent or legal guardian until the client is 18 years of age.
Will entitlements change when a client turns 18 years of age?
While turning 18 years of age will not change a client's entitlement to most benefits, some of the benefits may change. For example, an entitlement to minors' additional benefits will cease, but the client may be entitled to other benefits such as:
- an impairment lump sum
- loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity benefits
What is an 'authority' and why might a new authority need to be signed when a client turns 18 years of age?
The Authority to Release Information allows the TAC to obtain records or information which may be needed to assess which benefits are able to be paid to a client.
When a claim for compensation is first made on behalf of a child, the parent or guardian may have signed the authority which is part of the claim form.
In these circumstances, once the client turns 18 years of age the client must sign a new authority (unless they are prevented from doing so due to their injuries or other condition). This will ensure the TAC can continue to contact relevant parties and obtain information regarding the transport accident injuries and determine ongoing entitlements to TAC benefits.
Sometimes, a client aged between 15 and 18 years of age might have signed the initial authority on the claim form. If so, they will generally not be required to sign another authority when they turn 18 years of age.
What if a new authority is not returned to the TAC?
If the TAC has requested the client sign a new authority, which is not returned to the TAC, the TAC may be unable to determine the client's ongoing entitlement to benefits or assess whether treatment is reasonable.
In addition to any legal representation, some clients may choose to nominate a representative, such as a friend or relative, who the client wants the TAC to communicate with on their behalf.
If the client decides to have another person represent them when communicating with the TAC, they need to notify the TAC in writing. This can be done by:
- completing the 'authority to release information: client representative' form, or
- calling the TAC to obtain a form.
A client's written authorisation for a representative will remain in force until the TAC is otherwise notified in writing by the client.
What happens if a client does not tell the TAC who to communicate with once they turn 18 years of age?
Once a client has turned 18 years of age the TAC will communicate directly with the client unless the client has indicated otherwise.
What if a client is unable to represent themselves once they turn 18 years of age?
Some clients may not be able manage their own affairs once they turn 18 years of age due to a medical condition or their transport accident injuries. Clients in these circumstances may need the assistance of an administrator or a legal guardian appointed under the Guardianship and Administration Act 1986.
What if a client is unable to represent themselves once they turn 18 years of age and their parents/guardian is happy to continue to deal with the TAC on their behalf?
If there is a good history of communication between the TAC and the client's parents/guardian, the Office of the Public Advocate has advised that this arrangement can continue without the need for further documentation to be completed.
What if a client wants to represent themselves once they turn 18 years of age, however their parents/guardian have concerns for their ability to do so?
If the matter can not be resolved between the client and their parents/guardian, advice can be obtained from the Office of the Public Advocate as per the contact details below.
Further information about guardianship and administration can be obtained from the:
Office of the Public Advocate (www.publicadvocate.vic.gov.au)
Phone: 1300 309 337
Guardianship List at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (http://www.vcat.vic.gov.au)