This page has information about alternative dispute resolution (ADR) processes which might be held as part of a review in any of the following AAT divisions:

  • Freedom of Information Division
  • General Division
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme Division
  • Security Division
  • Taxation & Commercial Division
  • Veterans’ Appeals Division.

What ADR processes are used at the AAT?

There are five different types of ADR used at the AAT:

  • conferences
  • conciliation
  • mediation
  • case appraisal, and
  • neutral evaluation.

We use ADR to help the parties to a review – you and the department, agency or other organisation that made the decision you want reviewed – reach an agreement about how a case should be resolved. It is also used to narrow the issues that need to be considered by the AAT and agree on what further steps need to be taken to prepare for a hearing.  

This page is primarily about ADR processes other than conferences. Detailed information about conferences can be found here.

When does the AAT use ADR?

A conference is usually the first step in a review. During conferencing, a Conference Registrar might talk to you about whether another type of ADR might be appropriate in your case. We use our ADR Guidelines to help us decide whether we will refer a case to a particular type of ADR.

In some types of cases, we usually hold a conciliation if agreement is not reached during the conference stage: for example, reviews about Commonwealth workers’ compensation and NDIS decisions. We also usually hold a conciliation or mediation in tax and commercial cases.

The timing of a conciliation, mediation, case appraisal or neutral evaluation varies depending on the type of decision we are reviewing and when we think it will be most effective. We will send you a notice confirming the date, time and location of any ADR process.

Who will be at the ADR process?

As well as you, there will be:

  • an AAT Member or a Conference Registrar who will conduct the ADR process
  • your representative, if you have one, and
  • one or more representatives of the department.

There may also be:

  • a support person if you want to bring one – for example, a friend or family member,
  • an interpreter arranged by the AAT if you need one, and
  • other people who can contribute to the ADR process in your case: for example, a representative of the employing agency in a Commonwealth workers’ compensation case.

Where will the ADR process be held?

We usually hold conciliations, mediations, case appraisals and neutral evaluations in person at the AAT’s offices. The address will be in the notice we send to you.

If you live a long way from the AAT or you cannot get to our office, we can decide to hold the ADR process by telephone or videoconference.

Some case appraisals and neutral evaluations are conducted based on written submissions alone. If this might be appropriate in your case, we will discuss it during a conference.

What happens at ADR?

Each ADR process is different, but in every case you will be able to:

  • talk with the AAT and the department or organisation that made the decision about the issues in dispute
  • talk about possible options to reach agreement.

You can find more information about what happens in each type ADR process in our process models:

The AAT legislation requires parties to participate in ADR in good faith which includes acting honestly and fairly in their dealings with each other during the process.

More information about the duty to act in good faith can be found in the guidelines The Duty to Act in Good Faith in ADR Processes at the AAT.

How long does ADR take?

Many conciliations, mediations, case appraisals and neutral evaluations take between two and three hours. They can be shorter or longer depending on the case.

Are ADR processes held in private?

Yes. All ADR processes at the AAT are held in private.

The AAT legislation protects the confidentiality of discussions in ADR processes to support a full and frank discussion about the issues in dispute and options for settlement. In general, things said and done during ADR cannot be admitted as evidence in a later hearing at the AAT or in any other court or tribunal unless the parties agree.

More information about the confidentiality of ADR process can be found in the guidelines Confidentiality in ADR Processes.

Do I have to come to ADR?

Yes. It is very important that you attend the ADR process. If, for any reason, you can’t attend on the date arranged, tell us as soon as possible so we can arrange another time.

If you don’t attend or cannot be reached on the telephone number you give to the AAT, your application may be dismissed. This means it will be brought to an end. You will have to make another application if you want the AAT to continue dealing with your case.

What happens after ADR?

If your case is not resolved using ADR, the AAT will usually hold a hearing.

The AAT Member or Conference Registrar conducting your ADR process will talk to you about what will happen next.

How can I find out more about what will happen?

You can contact us at any stage of your review and ask us about AAT procedures.