The AAT is authorised to publish our written decisions by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (AAT Act). We are guided by the general principle that it is desirable for our reasons for decisions to be published in full. However, the AAT is prohibited or restricted from disclosing information in certain circumstances by the AAT Act, the Migration Act 1958 (Migration Act) and other legislation. Certain details may need to be kept confidential so as not to identify the applicant, other parties or witnesses in some types of cases. In limited circumstances, the entire written decision may need to be confidential.
Below is an overview of the key confidentiality requirements that apply to AAT decisions:
- The AAT is required by legislation to take steps to ensure that the applicant and certain other people cannot be identified in some types of decisions. These include most decisions about child support and protection (refugee) visas as well as tax decisions if the AAT was required to hold the hearing in private. In general, we also do not publish information identifying people involved in child protection or children’s criminal proceedings or the victims of sexual offences.
- A Tribunal member can make a direction in an individual case under the AAT Act or the Migration Act to prohibit or restrict the publication of particular information. This could be the name or other information tending to reveal the identity of a party, witness or other person or it could relate to evidence or other information that was given to the AAT.
- The applicant, another party or any other person can ask the AAT to make a non-publication direction. The AAT may also decide itself that a direction is required. The Tribunal member has to weigh the interests in favour of making the full reasons for decision publicly available against the reasons for making a non-publication direction. In broad terms, a Tribunal member may make a direction if satisfied in the circumstances of the case that the harm arising from publishing the sensitive information outweighs the public interest in its publication.
- If a non-publication direction is warranted in a particular case, the AAT generally aims to publish the written decision with the information modified or redacted. However, in limited cases, it may be appropriate that the written decision not be published in its entirety.