This page has information about decisions made by the AAT 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.
The AAT makes its decision after it has heard and considered your case. The AAT will decide if the decision being reviewed should stay the same or be changed. The AAT will explain why it made its decision.
The AAT Member(s) who heard your case will give you the decision and the reasons for the decision either:
- in person, or
- in writing.
Getting the decision and reasons in person
Sometimes, instead of providing written reasons for a decision, the AAT Member(s) will tell you in person the decision and the reasons for the decision – usually immediately after the hearing.
You and the department, agency or other organisation that made the decision you wanted reviewed will receive a copy of the decision in writing without detailed written reasons.
If you want the reasons for the decision in writing, you usually need to ask for them. You can do this in writing or by calling the AAT no later than 28 days after receiving a copy of the decision.
If the department asks for the reasons in writing, the AAT will also send you a copy.
Getting the decision and reasons in writing
If the AAT Member(s) wants more time after the hearing to think about the decision, you will usually receive the decision and the reasons for the decision in writing. The AAT usually gives its decision within two months of the hearing.
We will contact you or your representative and the department to tell you when the decision will be available. The decision will be sent to you or you may come to our office to collect a copy.
What does the AAT decision mean?
The AAT may affirm, vary or set aside the decision being reviewed. If the AAT:
- affirms the decision, this means the decision made by the department is not changed
- varies the decision, this means the decision has been changed or altered in some way
- sets aside and substitutes a new decision, this means it agrees or partially agrees that the decision was wrong and has changed all or part of the decision
- sets aside and remits the decision, this means it is sending the matter back to the department to be decided again in accordance with the AAT’s instructions or recommendations.
If you are unclear what your decision means, ask us.
Are AAT decisions made public?
Yes - Decisions with written reasons are usually made public and published on the internet, including on the AustLII website. Find out more about the decisions we publish, including our Publication of Decisions Policy.
If you are concerned about information that has been, or might be, published in a decision, you can apply to us not to publish some information or the entire decision. Write to us stating what you want kept confidential and why. If we are satisfied there is a good reason, the AAT can decide to:
- edit a decision to remove information
- not publish a decision, or
- recall a published decision.
Find out more about privacy and confidentiality at the AAT.
Will I get a refund of my fee?
If you paid a standard application fee and the application is resolved in your favour, you will receive a partial refund. If you are entitled to a refund, you should receive it within six weeks of receiving your decision. If you have not received a refund after six weeks, contact the AAT.
The application fee is not refunded if you paid a lower application fee or a reduced fee.
What can I do if I disagree with the AAT’s decision?
If you think the AAT’s decision is wrong, you can appeal to a court.
For most AAT decisions, you can appeal to the Federal Court, but an appeal to the Federal Court can only be about a question of law. This means that you or your representative must believe the AAT made a mistake in law in deciding your case.
You must make your appeal to the Federal Court no later than 28 days after receiving the AAT’s decision. The appeal must be on a special form available from the Federal Court. For more information about how to make an appeal, visit the Federal Court’s website.
You might want to get legal assistance if you are thinking about appealing because there are many rules about Federal Court appeals.
What happens if:
the department does not do what the AAT ordered, during the appeal period?
The department also has 28 days to appeal the AAT’s decision if it thinks it is wrong.
If the department has not complied with an AAT decision during this time, it might be because it is considering an appeal to the Federal Court.
the department does not do what the AAT ordered, after the appeal period?
If the appeal period has expired and the department has not done what the AAT said it should do, you should contact the person who represented the department at the hearing. They should be able to find out what is happening and explain why there might be a delay.
If you are not sure who to contact, call the AAT and we will help you. If there has been no appeal and you are unhappy about the delay, you can seek the assistance of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
What does the Commonwealth Ombudsman do?
If the appeal period has expired and the department has not done what the AAT said the department should do, you should contact the person who represented the department at the hearing. They should be able to find out what is happening and explain why there might be a delay.
If you are not sure who to contact, call the AAT and we will help you. If there has been no appeal and you are unhappy about the delay, you can seek the assistance of the Ombudsman’s website.
How can I find out more about my decision?
You can contact us at any stage if you have any questions about your decision.