The Administrative Appeals Tribunal
What it is, when it can help and how to apply for review
- What is the AAT?
- Can the AAT help me?
- How do I apply?
- I have sent my application to the AAT, what happens next?
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal is an organisation that reviews a wide range of decisions made by Australian Government ministers, departments, agencies and some other tribunals. The AAT also reviews decisions made by the Norfolk Island Government.
The AAT takes a fresh look at a decision and decides if it should stay the same or be changed. The AAT is independent of the person or organisation that made the decision.
What the AAT can do
The AAT can review many decisions made under Commonwealth laws. For example, we can review decisions about:
Commonwealth workers' compensation
social security and family assistance payments
There are many other kinds of decisions the AAT can review. You can find a list of these decisions, called the Jurisdiction List, on the AAT website. The website also has a list of the decisions made under Norfolk Island laws that the AAT can review.
What the AAT can't do
The AAT can't review:
every decision made by the Australian Government or the Norfolk Island Government
decisions made under state or territory laws, or
decisions made by local governments.
We can only review a decision if the law states that an application can be made to the AAT.
How will I know if the AAT can review my decision?
Your decision should state if the AAT can review it. We can also give you information about the kinds of decisions the AAT is able to review.
Contact us if you are not sure.
You can either fill out an application form or write us a letter. You can send it to us by post, email or fax.
Filling out a form
The application form is available on our website or you can ask us to send it to you.
Send your completed application form to the AAT. If you can, send us a copy of the decision you want reviewed.
Writing a letter
If you write us an application letter, it must include:
your name, address and telephone number
the date you received the decision, and
brief reasons why you think the decision is wrong.
If you can't give us a copy of the decision, then include in your letter:
the name of the person or organisation that made the decision, and
a brief description of the decision.
Send the application letter to the AAT and, if you can, a copy of the decision.
Ask us if you need help with your application.
Is there a time limit for making an application?
Yes. The time limit for making an application to the AAT is usually 28 days after you receive the decision you want reviewed. Sometimes it's longer. For example, applications for review of decisions made by the Veterans' Review Board have a time limit of three months.
The time limit is usually stated in the decision you want us to review.
What can I do if the time limit has expired?
If you want to make an application but the time limit has expired, you will need to apply for an extension of time. The Tribunal can extend most, but not all, time limits.
You can apply for an extension of time by filling out a form. It is available on our website or you can ask us to send it to you.
If you cannot get a copy of the form, you can write us a letter. Your letter must include the reasons why you could not get the application to us within the time limit.
Send your application form or letter to the AAT.
Ask us if you are not sure - we can help you.
Is there an application fee?
In many cases, there is no application fee. For example, there is no fee for applications about Commonwealth workers’ compensation, social security or family assistance payments or veterans’ pension decisions.
There is an application fee for other kinds of cases, such as taxation decisions.
If there is a fee, you might not have to pay all of it. For example, if you hold a health care card or a Commonwealth seniors health card you only pay a reduced fee of $100. If you believe you can’t afford to pay the full fee, you can apply to pay the reduced fee of $100.
If you pay the full application fee and the application is resolved in your favour, you will receive a partial refund. There is no refund if you have paid a reduced fee.
You will find more information about fees, and the form to apply to have the fee reduced, on the AAT website. We can also send you the form.
Ask us if you are not sure - we can help you.
What happens next?
We will send you a letter confirming that we have received your application and telling you what happens next. We also tell the department that made the decision about your application.
About a month after the AAT accepts your application, you will receive a set of papers in the mail that are put together by the department that made the decision. They are a copy of the papers that are relevant to the decision and are called the Section 37 documents or T (for Tribunal) documents.
If you do not have a professional person (such as a lawyer) representing you, we will call you to talk about the AAT's procedures.
Steps in a review
In most cases, the first step in a review is a conference. This is an informal meeting conducted by the AAT with you and a representative of the department. You will have a chance to talk about your case and explain why you think the decision should be changed. This conference is usually held between 6 and 10 weeks after we have accepted your application.
The AAT will, where possible, try to help you and the department reach an agreement about how your case should be resolved. The AAT might hold a second conference or another type of meeting, such as a conciliation or mediation. Many cases are finalised at this stage.
The AAT's procedures and the amount of time needed to complete the review will vary from case to case. The AAT aims to have cases finalised within 12 months.
Yes, a decision usually continues to operate while it is being reviewed by the AAT. In some cases, the AAT can order that the decision be suspended while the review takes place. If you want to ask the AAT to suspend the operation of the decision, you must complete a Request for stay order form. It is available on our website or you can ask us to send it to you.
No, but it sometimes helps.
If you want legal advice or representation, it is best to do this before your first conference with the AAT. You might be able to get help from a Community Legal Centre or from Legal Aid. We can give you their contact details.
If you tell us you have a representative, we will send all documents relating to your case to that person.
You can bring a friend or family member to support you at any stage.
The information you give us will be used to carry out the review under the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975.
If you give us information that the department or another party to the review does not have, we will usually give them a copy.
Limited information about a case is usually made available to the public on request and can be accessed using eCase Search, the AAT's online case search tool. More information is usually made publicly available if the AAT holds a hearing. Most AAT decisions are published on the internet.
The AAT can order that information be kept confidential if it believes there is good reason to do so. You can apply for an order by writing to the AAT stating what information you want kept confidential and why. In some cases, legislation requires that information be kept confidential.
For more information, see our fact sheet - Privacy and confidentiality at the AAT. It's available on our website or you can ask us to send it to you.
How can I find out more about what will happen?
Contact us if you need more information about the AAT's procedures.
The AAT's Service Charter sets out the standards of service you can expect from us and how to make a complaint if you are not satisfied with how we deal with your case. It's available on our website or you can ask us to send it to you.
Contact the AAT
Contact us by mail, phone, fax or email.
View this brochure in PDF (54 KB).
View this brochure in Large Print RTF (376 KB).
Order a print copy of this brochure by contacting your local AAT Registry.
Version: February 2013