What is a hearing?

The hearing is an opportunity for you to present information and arguments to the AAT about the decision under review.

We will usually invite you to attend a hearing unless:

  • the case can be decided in your favour based on the information we already have
  • you do not respond to a request to give us information or comments by the date we tell you
  • you agree to us deciding the review without appearing at a hearing.

The hearing is relatively informal and will usually be conducted by one Tribunal Member. The Member is the person who will make a decision about the review.

Find more information about hearings. You can also watch our video guide.


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 registry or you might attend by telephone or by videoconference.


Who will be at the hearing?

As well as you, there will be:

  • the Member(s)
  • an AAT staff member.

You must tell us if you would like the following people to attend:

  • a representative such as a migration agent, lawyer or other professional person
  • a support person such as a friend or family member
  • any witnesses that you have asked to give evidence.

You can tell us who will attend the hearing when we send you a ‘response to hearing invitation’ form.

Anyone who has been summonsed by us to give evidence might also attend the hearing.

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 the hearing be held in private, but only if there is a good reason to do so.

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
  • return the ‘response to hearing invitation’ form no later than 7 days (or no later than 1 day if you are in immigration detention) after receiving the hearing invitation
  • give us any information, documents or comments that we have asked you to give us by the date we tell you
  • give us any new information you want us to consider no later than 7 days (or no later than 1 day if you are in immigration detention) before the hearing, including a witness statement from any witnesses you have asked to give evidence
  • 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.

What happens at a hearing?

  • the Member or AAT staff member will explain what will happen during the hearing
  • you will be asked to take an oath or make an affirmation to tell the truth at the hearing
  • if you have an interpreter or witness they will be asked to take an oath or make an affirmation
  • you will have an opportunity to explain why you disagree with the decision under review and the Member will ask you questions.

If you have a representative, we are not required to allow them to argue your case for you. However, the Member will usually let them speak in your favour before the close of the hearing.

The length of the hearing might be between 1 to 3 hours, but it 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 or make a decision without you.

If the review is dismissed because you did not attend the scheduled hearing you can ask us to reinstate the review. A request to reinstate the review must be made in writing within 14 days after being told the review was dismissed.

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

If you hold a bridging visa associated with the application that was the subject of our review, your bridging visa will cease either:

  • 35 days after our decision is made (if your bridging visa was granted on or after 19 November 2016), or
  • 28 days after you are notified of our decision (if your bridging visa was granted prior to 19 November 2016).

Find more information about dismissal of applications.

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 as soon as possible
  • 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 the hearing?

If you do not want to attend the hearing you can tell us when you return the ‘response to hearing invitation’ form we send you. However, if you do not attend the hearing you will not be able to tell us your version of events.

We can make a decision without inviting you to a hearing for the following reasons:

  • the review can be decided in your favour based on the information we have
  • you do not respond to a request to give us information or comments, within the date we tell you
  • you agree to us deciding the review without appearing at a hearing.

Dismissal and reinstatement of an application

If the application is dismissed because you did not attend the scheduled hearing you can ask us to reinstate the application.

A request to reinstate the application must be made in writing within 14 days after you were notified that the application was dismissed. You must tell us why you think the application should be reinstated. You should include any documents which support what you are telling us.

If we decide not to reinstate the application, or if you fail to apply for reinstatement within the 14-day period, we must confirm the decision to dismiss the application. We will tell you this in writing. The decision under review remains unchanged and we cannot review the decision.

Find more information about dismissal of applications, including what happens to a bridging visa associated with the application that was the subject of our review.


Access to hearing information

Can I access a recording of the hearing?

Yes. You can request a CD copy of the recording at the end of the hearing, free of charge.

Can I access a transcript of the hearing?

No, a transcript of the hearing is not provided.