The Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) conducts independent merits review of administrative decisions made under Commonwealth laws. We review decisions made by Australian Government ministers, departments and agencies and, in limited circumstances, decisions made by state government and non-government bodies. We also review decisions made under Norfolk Island laws.
The AAT was established by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 and commenced operations on 1 July 1976.
On 1 July 2015 the Migration Review Tribunal, Refugee Review Tribunal and Social Security Appeals Tribunal were merged with the AAT.
The AAT falls within the portfolio of the Attorney-General. Selected media releases and announcements about the AAT by the Attorney-General are available.
Functions and powers
The AAT does not have a general power to review decisions. We can only review a decision if an Act, regulation or other legislative instrument states that the decision can be reviewed by the AAT.
The AAT can review decisions made under more than 400 Commonwealth Acts and legislative instruments. The most common types of decisions we review relate to:
- child support
- Commonwealth workers’ compensation
- family assistance, paid parental leave, social security and student assistance
- migration and refugee visas and visa-related decisions
- veterans' entitlements.
We also review decisions relating to:
- Australian citizenship
- civil aviation
- corporations and financial services regulation
- freedom of information
- the National Disability Insurance Scheme
- passports and
- security assessments by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
In relation to Norfolk Island, the AAT can review decisions made under 39 Norfolk Island laws, including decisions about customs, planning and social services.
The AAT is not always the first step in having a decision reviewed. In some cases, we cannot review a decision until there has been an internal review of the primary decision or review by a specialist review body like the Veterans’ Review Board.
The AAT can also conduct a second review of certain decisions that have been reviewed in our Social Services & Child Support Division. A second review is conducted in our General Division.
Find out more about the types of decisions we can review.
Review of decisions
The AAT reviews a decision “on the merits”. This means that we take a fresh look at the facts, law and policy relating to the decision and arrive at our own decision. The AAT must make the legally correct decision or, where there can be more than one correct decision, the preferable decision.
The AAT has the power to:
- affirm a decision
- vary a decision
- set aside a decision and substitute a new decision, or
- remit a decision to the decision-maker for reconsideration.
We aim to provide a review process that:
- is accessible,
- is fair, just, economical, informal and quick,
- is proportionate to the importance and complexity of the matter, and
- promotes public trust and confidence in the decision-making of the Tribunal.
The review process varies depending on the type of decision we are reviewing.
Find out more about how we review decisions