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What is a hearing?

The hearing is an opportunity for you, a representative of the agency or Minister that made the decision and any other party, to present information and arguments to the AAT about the decision under review.

The hearing is relatively informal and the Tribunal may have one, two, or three Members. The Member(s) will make a decision about the review.

We will hold a hearing if the review has not been resolved at an earlier stage in the review process, such as at a conference.

You can watch our video guide for more information about what happens during a hearing.

When and where will the hearing be held?

We will write to you to tell you the date, time and location of the hearing.

In many reviews, it will be in a hearing room at an AAT office. You might be able to attend the hearing by telephone, or by videoconference. You should tell us your preference when you lodge the application.

Who will be at the hearing?

As well as you, there will be :

  • the Member(s)
  • an AAT staff member
  • a representative of the agency or the Minister that made the decision 
  • any other person who is a party to the review.

There might also be:

  • your representative, such as a lawyer or other professional person
  • a support person such as a friend or family member
  • any witnesses that you or any other party have asked to give evidence
  • the Director-General of Security in certain cases
  • anyone summoned by us to give evidence.

How to address members

You may address an AAT member by:

  • their title (e.g. Deputy President, Senior Member, or Member)
  • name (e.g. Ms. Smith), or 
  • a combination of both (e.g. Senior Member Smith).

Some members of the AAT are judges, including the President. They may be addressed as ‘Your Honour’. The President may also be addressed as ‘President’.

A member’s title and name will usually be displayed in the hearing room, directly in front of the member. 

Can I have an interpreter for the hearing?

Yes. If you need someone to interpret for you, we will arrange and pay for a qualified interpreter to attend the hearing. A relative or friend is not permitted to interpret for you.

Is the hearing open to the public?

Yes, hearings are usually open to the public. We can order that a hearing be held in private, but only if there is a good reason to do so. You can apply for such an order by telling us in writing why you require a private hearing.

Audio, video or photography equipment (including mobile phones), or any other recording or transmission devices are prohibited on AAT premises, including in public areas.

All devices must be fully turned off before entering a hearing room.

How can I prepare for a hearing?

  • record the date, time and place for the hearing
  • plan to arrive early on the day or be ready to receive the call at the start time
  • tell us if you would like a witness to attend or if you require an interpreter
  • give us any new information, no later than 14 days before the hearing
  • you can send us a written summary of your arguments no later than 7 days before the hearing
  • read all the documents you have been given and write down the things you want to talk about
  • make sure you have all the documents at the hearing.

A copy of any new information must also be sent to the representative of the agency or the Minister before the hearing. You should use the contact details in the letter they sent you.

What happens at a hearing?

  • the Member will explain what will happen during the hearing
  • if represented by a professional person such as a lawyer, your representative will usually talk on your behalf
  • the Member might ask the representative of the agency or the Minister to talk briefly about the main issues in the review
  • you will be asked to take an oath or make an affirmation that you will tell the truth at the hearing
  • if it is claimed that a document is exempt because its release might cause damage to national security, defence or international relations, the Inspector-General of Security might appear personally and give evidence
  • you will have an opportunity to present information and the Member, and representative of the agency or the Minister and any other party, can ask questions
  • any witnesses will be asked to give evidence. You, the representative of the agency or Minister, any other party and the Member, can ask questions of each witness
  • you, the representative of the agency or the Minister and any other party will have an opportunity to give a brief summary of all the main arguments in the review

The length of the hearing varies from case to case. Many hearings are finished in under 3 hours, but they can be longer.

You might receive our decision at the end of the hearing, or at a later date.

We will make an audio recording of the hearing.

What happens if I do not attend a hearing?

We might:

  • dismiss the application if you are the applicant, meaning it will be brought to an end, or
  • remove you as a party to the review if you are not the applicant, or 
  • make a decision without you.

If the application is dismissed because you did not attend the hearing you can ask us to reinstate the application. A request must be made within 28 days after you were notified that the application was dismissed.

If the application is not reinstated, the decision remains unchanged and we cannot review the decision.

Change of hearing date

If you cannot attend the hearing you should tell us as soon as possible. We might be able to change the hearing date or allow you to attend by telephone or videoconference.

A request to change the date of the hearing should:

  • be made in writing
  • explain why you cannot attend
  • include any supporting documents, such as a medical certificate.

The date of the hearing will only be changed if there are very good reasons to do so. If we do not agree to change the date, the hearing will go ahead as planned.

What if I do not want to attend a hearing?

You can tell us you do not want to attend the hearing and, if the representative of the agency or the Minister and any other party agree, we might make a decision based on the information we have.

If you do not attend the hearing you will not be able to tell us your version of events.

Access to hearing information

Can I access a recording of the hearing?

No, we will not provide you with a recording of the hearing.

Can I access a transcript of the hearing?

You can usually inspect a transcript held by the AAT if one was produced as part of deciding the review.

Otherwise, you must order a transcript of the hearing by lodging a request form directly with Epiq:

You must pay the cost of obtaining a transcript. Charges are set by Epiq and are detailed on the form.