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Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) can review decisions made by Australian government departments and other agencies. The AAT is independent of any parties involved in the proceedings or the government agency who makes the original decision. The Tribunal’s review process is not as formal as a court setting. It is much more time-efficient and cheaper in costs.

1. Jurisdiction

Commonly speaking, the AAT can only review a decision if a law states that the decision can be reviewed by the Tribunal.

The common types of decisions subject to AAT’s review include:

Migration Visas

Child Support

Family Assistance

Social Security

Taxation

Worker’s Compensation

Apply for AAT reviewNot all government rulings can be directly reviewed by the AAT. According to the law, some types of decisions need to go through an internal review by the original agency before they can be reviewed by the AAT. Usually, the original decision or any attached information will explain to you whether you can apply to the AAT for a review of the decision.Time limit for applicationsMany decisions have a time frame in which you must submit your appeal by. You may refer to the decision letter to see whether such limit applies (usually 28 days). Should you wish to the decision to be reviewed by the AAT, you must ensure that the application is submitted to the AAT before the deadline

Example

Denial or cancellation of a visa is a type of decisions that are commonly reviewed by the AAT. If your visa is denied or cancelled, in most cases you can apply to the AAT for a review. However, you should first read your decision letter carefully to understand your review rights and interests. If you decide to go to the AAT for a review, please make sure you submit a review application to the AAT within the specified time limit.

2. Application for review

You may submit written applications to AAT:
  • via AAT’s website
  • in person
  • by fax
  •  by post
Upon successful submission, you will receive a confirmation letter from the AAT and the AAT will notify the government agency that made the original decision and any relevant third parties.
The AAT will require the agency to provide all documents related to the original decision. It will also collect information and documents from the applicant and any relevant third parties (except for most immigration and refugee claims).
During a review, the AAT will re-examine the factual, legal and policy basis of the original decision and consider whether the parties’ circumstances have changed since the decision was made. If there are changes to your situation that the AAT needs to consider in the review, please make sure to provide this information to the AAT as soon as possible.

Special cases relating to migration and refugee visasThe applicant is required to apply to the AAT for documents relating to the original decision. The AAT has a privacy policy which prevents your information from being disclosed to others.

3. Is a lawyer or an interpreter required?

You may attend the hearing by yourself, or with a lawyer, immigration agent, a family member or a friend. However, in some cases, approval from the AAT is required before you appoint a lawyer or immigration agent to represent you. Meanwhile, you will also need to inform the AAT of the relevant agent’s information in writing.If you require translation services in the course of attending an AAT hearing, you will need to apply to AAT in advance and it will pay and arrange for an interpreter to attend the hearing.Note: Relatives or friends are not permitted to provide translation for you in the hearing.

4. AAT conciliations and hearings

In some cases, the AAT will organise one or more meetings, usually in a relaxed manner, between the two parties, where an AAT member will discuss your case with you and the other party and try to facilitate agreement between the parties prior to a hearing. If you have any new information that you would like the AAT to consider during the meeting, you will need to provide this information to the AAT prior to the meeting.If an agreement cannot be reached, or if the AAT is unable to rule on the basis of the document itself, the case will eventually be decided in a hearing. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case again to the AAT member reviewing the case and, with the permission of the AAT, to ask witnesses to give evidence.

5. AAT awards and appeals

Upon review, the AAT may:

Affirm the original decision

Vary the decision

Set aside the decision and substitute a new decision

Remit the decision to the decision-maker for reconsideration

The AAT members normally make and announce the ruling at the hearing, or they may inform you of the ruling in writing afterwards. The relevant government agency must comply with the AAT’s ruling as soon as possible after the review.If you are not satisfied with the AAT’s decision, the applicant or other related parties may appeal to the Federal Court or the Federal Circuit Court, depending on the type of the matter. It is also important to note that the Federal Court or the Federal Circuit will only review as to whether the law was properly applied by the AAT, instead of factual issues. In other words, you cannot contest any finding of a question of fact.

Conclusion

The role of the AAT is to allow a convenient access for people to challenge the decisions made by government agencies. However, the process of administrative review is complicated. Hence, it is not only necessary for you to understand relevant laws and policies, but also to fully express your opinions based on your circumstances in the process of review. If you want to file an appeal of decision with ATT but are not sure how to proceed, we are available to assist you by reviewing your case, filing an application, and providing assistance throughout the review process.

Disclaimer

This article is only a general guide and does not apply to readers’ individual cases. Based on the information provided, readers should not make any legal decisions without seeking professional legal advice from an Australian Legal Practitioner. Fumens Lawyers hereby declares that readers who refer to this article do not constitute a lawyer-client relationship with our firm, therefore, Fumens Lawyers will not be liable for any losses caused as a result of relying on the information contained within this article.