The role of the AAT is to apply the law enacted by the Federal Parliament, including relevant ministerial directions. The AAT reviews a broad range of visa decisions made by the Department of Home Affairs.
Recent media coverage incorrectly reported that the AAT set aside more decisions than it affirmed. “Affirmed” means that the AAT upheld the original decision made by the Department of Home Affairs.
In 2016-17, the AAT finalised 19,077 reviews of visa decisions made by the Department of Home Affairs. Of these, 31% set aside, varied or remitted the decision made by the original decision maker, 44% affirmed the decision made by the original decision maker, and the remaining 25% of cases were withdrawn, dismissed or not reviewable.
Much of the recent media coverage concerned matters where the AAT has reviewed the Department’s decisions to refuse or cancel a visa on character grounds. This is a small component of the broad range of visa decisions reviewed by the AAT.
In 2016-17, there were 168 reviews relating to visa cancellations and refusals on character grounds undertaken by the AAT. Of these, 19% set aside the decision made by the original decision maker, 52% affirmed the decision made by the original decision maker, and the remaining 29% of cases were withdrawn, dismissed or not reviewable.
Recent media coverage included claims questioning the transparency and accountability of the AAT’s operations.
The AAT is an important part of the Government’s administrative decision-making process, values public scrutiny and is also subject to the supervision of the Federal Court.
The AAT introduced a Decision Publications Policy in November 2017. In line with this policy, the AAT publishes all written decisions relating to visa cancellations and refusals on character grounds, except where legislation or a specific order prevents it.
The AAT is on track to reach its 2017-18 decision publication target. Achievement of this target will mean that the AAT is one of the highest volume publishers of decisions amongst all courts and tribunals in Australia.
About the AAT
The AAT provides people with the opportunity for independent review of decisions made under more than 400 Commonwealth Acts, including matters relating to taxation, social security, the NDIS, workers’ compensation and veterans’ appeals. The AAT is required to consider additional information that may not have been before the original decision maker and conducts hearings to test evidence. Last financial year (2016-17), the AAT finalised a total of 42,224 matters.
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