This page has information about conferences which might be held as part of a review in any of the following AAT divisions:

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

What is a conference?

A conference is an informal, private meeting arranged by the AAT.

At a conference, you can talk about your case with the AAT and a representative of the department, agency or other organisation that made the decision you want reviewed. Conferences give you a chance to say why you think the decision is wrong and, where possible, come to an agreement with the department about how your case should be resolved.

A conference is usually the first step in a review after the AAT accepts the application. The AAT might decide to hold more than one conference to talk about the case.

Many cases are resolved at the conference stage.


When will the conference be held?

The first conference will usually be held between 6 and 10 weeks after the AAT has accepted the application. By this time, you will have received 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.

We will send you a notice confirming the date, time and location of the conference.

If the AAT decides to have more than one conference, we will talk to you about when the next conference will be. We will also send you another notice to confirm the date, time and location.


Who will be at a conference?

As well as you, there will be:

  • a Conference Registrar who will conduct the conference, and
  • a representative of the department.

There might also be:

  • a support person if you want to bring one – for example, a friend or family member, and
  • an interpreter arranged by the AAT if you need one.

Where will the conference be held?

Conferences are usually held in person at the AAT’s offices. The address will be in the notice we send to you with the details of the conference.

If you live a long way from the AAT or you cannot get to our office, the AAT can decide to hold the conference by telephone. If this happens, we will need your daytime phone number.

The Conference Registrar will phone you at the time of your conference, which is listed on the notice we send you. You will have a three-way telephone conversation with the Conference Registrar and the representative of the department.

Remember to tell our staff if your address or telephone number changes while we are dealing with your application.

Portable hearing loop systems are available, on request, in AAT conference rooms.


What happens at conferences?

At the first conference, the Conference Registrar will give you and the representative of the department a chance to talk about the decision that has been made. You will be able to:

  • show the AAT and the department any extra information you have that you think supports your case, and
  • ask any questions.

The Conference Registrar will talk about:

  • whether there is other information you might be able to get that would support your case, such as a medical report
  • whether you and the department might be able to agree about what the decision should be, and
  • what will happen next in the review.

The AAT will usually hold more than one conference if you or the department decide to get more information. The AAT might also feel another conference will help to resolve the case or help to prepare it for a hearing.

Please note that the AAT does not make a final decision at a conference.


How long do conferences take?

Usually, conferences last about 45 minutes, but sometimes they can last up to an hour or longer.


What should I bring to the conference?

  • All the papers we sent to you.
  • The T documents and any other papers sent to you by the department after you made your application to the AAT. The T documents are your guide to the case. Everyone at the conference will have copies of these and will work through them.
  • Copies of any letters you have written to the department or the AAT after you made your application to the AAT.
  • Anything else you think the AAT should be aware of – for example, medical reports or letters from friends or organisations that you think might help your case.

Will I need a lawyer?

No – but if you want to get 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.


Do I have to come to the conference?

Yes. It is very important that you attend the conference. 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 a conference or cannot be reached on the phone 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 the conference stage?

If your case is not resolved at the conference stage, the AAT will usually hold a hearing. In some cases, the AAT might talk to you about other processes, such as conciliation, mediation, case appraisal or neutral evaluation.

The Conference Registrar conducting your conference will talk to you about what will happen after the conference stage.


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.