What is a hearing?
Failure to attend hearing - dismissal of application
On the day of the hearing
Addressing the Member
Requirements to take an oath or make an affirmation
Assistance at the hearing
Recording of the hearing
Interpreter arrangements for the hearing
Observing and participating in the hearing
Length of the hearing
Issuing a summons under the Migration Act
Fees and expenses associated with the summons
Persons who have been summonsed and are unable to attend
How will the information that is provided to us be used?

What is a hearing?

The hearing is an opportunity for you to give evidence and present arguments relating to the issues arising in relation to the decision under review. We may also take evidence from other persons. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection or the Department of Home Affairs is not represented and the hearings are relatively informal.

We are obliged to invite a review applicant to a hearing.  However, there are three circumstances where we may make a decision without inviting an applicant to a hearing:

  • If the review can be decided in the review applicant's favour on the basis of material before us.
  • If the review applicant fails within the prescribed time, to respond to a request to provide information, or to comment upon, or respond to, adverse information.
  • If the review applicant consents to us deciding the review without them appearing before us.

All applicants included in a review application will be invited to a hearing if a hearing is required. Each review applicant must decide whether or not they wish to appear at a hearing to give evidence in support of their application and present arguments in relation to the issues arising in the review. The questions that the Member may need to ask each review applicant will depend on the circumstances of the case.

The hearing invitation letter will include Response to hearing invitation form in which the applicant should specify who will be attending the hearing and any witnesses that they would like the Member to take evidence from.

If applicants are not able to attend the hearing they should advise us as soon as possible. Please note that we will only change the scheduled date if satisfied that you have a very good reason for being granted an adjournment. If you do not receive advice from us that an adjournment has been granted, you must assume that the hearing will proceed. If you do not attend the scheduled hearing, we may make a decision without taking any further action, or may dismiss your application for review without any further consideration of the application or the information before us. For further information on dismissal, see Dismissal of Application

Hearings are conducted by a Member who has been allocated to the case. The hearing allows the Member to take oral evidence from the applicant and from other persons, and provides an opportunity for you to present arguments relating to the issues arising in the review.

We may conduct a hearing in person, by video or by telephone. Hearings may be conducted at an AAT office or in a suitable location outside of our premises.
Our procedures are relatively informal and the Member will guide the proceedings to suit the circumstances of the case. The Member will ask questions and will provide you with an opportunity to make a statement or present arguments.

Failure to attend hearing - dismissal of application
If you are invited to appear for a hearing but fail to attend the hearing we may dismiss your application for review without any further consideration of the application or the information before us. If the Member dismisses your application, a written statement of the dismissal decision will be given to you.

What happens if an application is dismissed?
Within 14 days after receiving notice of the dismissal decision you may apply to us, in writing, for reinstatement of the application. On receiving an application for reinstatement, we may reinstate the application for review if we consider it appropriate to do so. If we decide not to reinstate the application, or if you fail to apply for reinstatement within the 14 day period, we must confirm the decision to dismiss the application. A written statement of our decision to reinstate the application or to confirm the dismissal of the application will be given to you.

What happens if the application for review is reinstated?
If we reinstates the application, the application is taken never to have been dismissed and we will conduct (or continue to conduct) the review accordingly.

What happens if we confirm the dismissal?
If we confirm the decision to dismiss the application, the decision under review is taken to be affirmed. The effect of this is that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or the Department of Home Affairs decision remains in force. If you think that our decision is wrong in law, you may consider seeking judicial review in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. If you wish to apply for review, you must do so within 35 days of the date of our decision.

If you hold a bridging visa associated with the application that was the subject of our review, your bridging visa will cease 28 days after you are notified of our decision. If you have any questions about your immigration status, or if your contact details have changed since you last communicated with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or the Department of Home Affairs, you should contact the Department.

On the day of the hearing

If the hearing is in person at an AAT office, you should report to the reception counter at least 15 minutes before the start of the hearing. Prior to the hearing, a hearing officer will check with you who will be attending the hearing and whether you have any documents you wish to give to us. The hearing officer will take you, the interpreter and any other persons involved in the hearing, into the hearing room, and provide an explanation of the procedures.

When the hearing is ready to commence, the audio recording will be started and the Member will enter the room. The Member will commence the hearing and administer an oath or affirmation to any person giving evidence, and to the interpreter.

If the hearing is by video, you will be able to see and hear the Member on the video screen. If you have difficulty hearing or seeing the Member, or hearing the interpreter, you should inform the Member or the hearing officer as soon as possible.

If the hearing is by telephone, you will be contacted by the hearing officer on the number you have provided. The hearing officer will explain the procedures. If at any time you have difficulty hearing the Member, the interpreter or the hearing officer, you should inform the Member or hearing officer as soon as possible.

Addressing the Member

The Member may be addressed by name (e.g.: ‘Ms Smith’) or referred to as ‘Member’ or by their position title as advised at the start of the hearing.
 

Requirements to take an oath or make an affirmation

We generally require that all persons giving oral evidence take an oath or make an affirmation to tell the truth.  If an interpreter is assisting at the hearing, the interpreter is required to take an oath or make an affirmation that they will interpret to the best of their abilities.

Assistance at the hearing

You may have another person present at the hearing to assist you. This may be your representative, if you have appointed one, or your sponsor or a family member. A person assisting you cannot in normal circumstances present oral arguments or formally address the hearing on your behalf.  However, a person assisting you can give advice or support and may be invited by the Member to comment on specific matters.

It is up to the Member to decide whether or not a hearing can be adjourned for a short break.  In most case the Member will adjourn for a short break after 90 minutes or two hours.  The Member may permit a short break at any time to enable the representative to confer with their client, and the Member may leave the hearing room for this purpose.  If the applicant needs a break for any other reason during the hearing, they should ask the Member.

Representatives are usually expected to attend the hearing in person.  Where hearings are to be conducted by videoconference or by telephone, the representative may participate from the location of the applicant or the location of the Member.  Where a representative is remote from both the applicant and the Member, they may seek, in advance of the hearing, the Member's permission to participate by telephone.  AAT premises will not normally be made available for this purpose.  For refugee review hearings, if a representative is permitted to appear by telephone, they must make suitable arrangements to preserve the private nature of the hearing.

Recording of the hearing

All hearings are audio recorded.  You can request a copy of the recording from us at the end of the hearing free of charge.

Interpreter arrangements for the hearing

If requested, we will arrange for an interpreter to be at the hearing.  The interpreter will be a qualified interpreter from an interpreter service. It is our policy not to use family members, friends or representatives as an interpreter.

If you are not satisfied with the interpreting before or during the hearing, it is important that you inform the Member or the hearing officer as soon as possible.

Observing and participating in the hearing

Migration hearings are generally open to the public. This means that family members or friends may observe the hearing, and there may be other persons present.  Any person present must not interrupt or disturb the hearing. Mobile phones must be switched off.  Participants must not use a camera or recording equipment on the AAT’s premises unless prior approval has been explicitly given. Attendees may enter and leave a hearing room during a proceeding.  A daily list of hearings is published on our website.

The Member may decide to conduct part or all of the hearing in private if they consider it is in the public interest to do so. The applicant may request the Member either before or during the hearing, to consider holding the hearing in private.

Refugee hearings are held in private and only those persons permitted by the Member can attend.  A friend or relative may be able to remain in the hearing room with you during the hearing. However, the Member may ask that person or persons to leave the hearing room for part of the hearing if they are also going to give evidence on your behalf.

If you are accompanied by friends or relatives to a migration or refugee hearing, an officer will clarify whether or not they may be giving evidence, or if they will be assisting or are representing you. 

For persons assisting or representing you, the officer will ask for identifying information (if not previously provided) and whether persons who intend to give oral evidence will do so under oath or affirmation. The officer may ask for information about the nature of the evidence a person might give or their relationship to you.  This information will inform the Member as to the conduct of the hearing.

In addition all persons seeking to attend a refugee hearing, including persons you simply wish to be present, must provide identifying information. The identity of each person present is required as part of the hearing record.

Length of the hearing

The length of the hearing can be anything between one to three hours depending on the case.  Some hearings are shorter and some are much longer.  The Member may adjourn a hearing to allow for a break.  You may ask for a short break if you need one at any time during the hearing.

Issuing a summons under the Migration Act

We have the power to formally summons a person to appear to give evidence or to produce documents.  A summons is issued in a written letter of advice. This power is generally only used in circumstances where a person may otherwise be unwilling or unable to attend the hearing or provide a document.

You can request us to issue a summons.  If you wish to make such a request, you should do so in writing.  If we decide to issue a summons at your request, you are liable to pay for the associated costs.

Fees and expenses associated with the summons

Persons, other than parties to a proceeding, who are summonsed to appear before the AAT to give evidence are entitled to be paid expenses for loss of wages, salary or fees for attending the hearing, or a reasonable amount for each day the person attends the hearing (in any other case). They are also entitled to be paid a reasonable amount for travel, and (if required) overnight expenses, unless these expenses have already been covered (for example pre-paid travel, meals or accommodation). Fees and allowances are only payable for appearance before the AAT. No fees or allowances are payable where the person has only been summonsed to produce documents.

If a person summonsed by a party wishes to claim reasonable expenses for travel and/or reimbursement for loss of wages, salary or fees arising from their appearance before the AAT, they should send an estimate of costs to the contact person given on the summons advice letter. If an agreement on the amount cannot be reached, the person summonsed may apply to the Tribunal to determine the amount of payment they are entitled to receive, under subsection 13(7) of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Regulation 2015.

A person is not excused from complying with a summons only because they think an insufficient amount has been paid to them.

Fees or allowances in relation to compliance with a summons are not payable to a party to the proceedings unless the Tribunal orders otherwise.

Persons who have been summonsed and are unable to attend at the scheduled time or are unable to produce the requested documents

If a summons has been issued for an individual to attend the AAT or to produce documents, and they believe that they have a reasonable excuse for not attending or producing documents, they should immediately contact the contact person on the summons advice letter.

Failure to comply with a summons is an offence under the Migration Act 1958 and may result in a penalty of imprisonment for 12 months, a fine of $12,600, or both.

How will the information that is provided to us be used?

Information provided to us will be used to assess review applications under the Migration Act. Any information provided to us may be provided to other participants in proceedings, to other individuals or organisations when seeking expert opinion or assessment, and may become public during migration review proceedings or when a migration review or refugee review decision is published. In certain circumstances we may also provide information to other government organisations. These include but are not limited to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or the Department of Home Affairs, the Migration Agents Registration Authority, courts and tribunals, and law enforcement agencies.