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Why do we redact?

Redacting AAT decisions that are selected for publication balances the AAT’s goal to promote transparency and public trust and confidence in what we do, with the legal and public policy requirement to protect legitimate privacy concerns, while maintaining the cogency and readability of the reasoning.

The AAT promotes transparency through the publication of decisions and the reasons for them, subject to the requirement not to publish information the disclosure of which is prohibited or restricted by legislation or by a Tribunal order. The AAT publishes decisions in accordance with our Publication of Decisions Policy.

When do we redact?

By law, we must redact child support, protection visa (refugee) and tax (private hearing) decisions to protect the identity of the applicant and certain other people. See the Publication of Decisions Policy for more details.

A Tribunal member can make a statutory direction in an individual case (eg in a migration decision) to prohibit or restrict the publication of identifying, sensitive, evidential or other information.

The applicant or other party can ask the AAT not to publish some information or the entire decision. If the Tribunal member decides that a non-publication direction is warranted, we may either not publish the decision at all or publish the decision with the information of concern modified or redacted.

What do we redact?

For publication purposes, we generally redact personal information that directly and/or indirectly identifies the applicant, parties, or other persons relating to a decision.

  1. In child support decisions, we replace parties’ names by assigning a pseudonym starting with the same letter. For example: “Black and Gregson” becomes “Brenton and Gallagher” so the citation would be Brenton and Gallagher (Child Support) [2018] AATA 123 (3 March 2018)
  2. For General Division decisions regarding cancellation of protection visas on character grounds, private taxation hearings or other cases where a confidentiality order under section 35 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 has been issued, an auto-generated four- letter pseudonym is applied to replace applicants’ names. For example: ABCD and Commissioner of Taxation (Taxation) [2019] AATA 123 (1 February 2019).
  3. For refugee (protection visa) decisions, we replace the applicant’s name with generic text in the citation and in the decision. We also redact other types of information that may directly or indirectly identify the applicant, including unique personal identifiers (see d. below) or details relating to children, family violence or sexual abuse, occupations, membership of groups, pending criminal charges, and sensitive medical conditions.
  4. To prevent identity theft, we generally redact partially or in full, unique personal identifiers such as dates of birth, residential addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, bank account or credit card numbers, driver’s licence details, or Centrelink, Medicare, passport or tax file numbers.

To prevent potential misuse of information, AAT members will not generally include information in their reasons for decision about a party, witness or other person that is not relevant to the findings or not necessary for the cogency of the reasons.

What don’t we redact?

We don’t redact information that is common knowledge, is a common phenomenon or refers to a large group of people. For example, we generally don’t redact names of well-known people not directly related to the applicant, Australian states, regions or capital cities, large political parties, mainstream religions, or other groups that have enough members so that an individual is not recognisable.

How do we redact?

We do not use the black line style of redaction for decisions selected for publication. Instead, generic descriptors are inserted to replace identifying information. Here is a simple example:

‘The applicant stated she was employed as a lawyer [Occupation 1] in Sydney.’

If the extent of the redaction required to comply with non-disclosure requirements would render the written decision unintelligible, the decision will not be published. Such instances are rare.

Find out more

For more information, see the Publication of Decisions Policy.