What is conciliation?

Conciliation is an informal, private meeting arranged by the AAT to help the parties try to reach an agreed outcome. 

It will be conducted by an AAT Conference Registrar or Member, and attended by:

  • you and, if you have one, your representative
  • a representative of the agency or the Minister who made the FOI decision
  • any other party to the review.

If you want to, you can bring a support person such as a friend or family member.

We will arrange for an interpreter to attend if you need one.


When and where will the conciliation be held?

We will talk to you about when the conciliation will be held and then write to you with the date, time and location of the conciliation.

It will usually be held in person at an AAT registry. You might be able to attend by telephone or videoconference if we agree.

Usually, conciliations last between 2 and 3 hours but they can be longer.

What happens if I cannot attend the conciliation?

You should tell us as soon as possible and we might be able to change the date.

If you do not attend the conciliation and you do not have a good reason, we might dismiss the application.

How can I prepare for the conciliation?

  • you can use the Conciliation preparation toolkit [PDF, 235KB] to help you think about what outcome you want, and what you can negotiate and compromise on. It does not need to be given to us or another party, and is also available to use online.
  • come willing and prepared to reach agreement, if possible
  • send us and each other party any new evidence you have gathered before the conciliation.

What happens at conciliation?

The Conference Registrar or Member help the parties to:

  • talk about the issues in the case and define the issues that are still in dispute
  • talk about the evidence in the case and hear each other’s point of view
  • consider the strengths and weaknesses of their case
  • consider possible options for reaching an agreed outcome
  • record facts or issues where there is agreement, saving time at a hearing

If full agreement cannot be reached, we will talk about what happens next. We usually list the application for a hearing.

Look at the Conciliation process model [PDF, 86KB] for more information about what happens at conciliation. Look at Confidentiality in ADR processes for information about confidentiality in a conciliation.

What happens if there is an agreed outcome?

If you, the agency or the Minister and any other party come to an agreement about the decision, the terms of the agreement must be put in writing, signed by all the parties and sent to us. Look at Coming to an agreement for more information about what happens then.

If you are the applicant, you might decide you want to withdraw the application after the conciliation.  Look at Can I withdraw an application? for information about how to do this.