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What is a hearing?

The hearing is an opportunity for you, and the representative of the National Disability Insurance Agency (the NDIA), to present information and arguments to the AAT about the decision under review. You will be able to talk about why you disagree with the decision.

The hearing is relatively informal and will usually be conducted by one AAT Member. The Member is the person who 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 case conference or conciliation.

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 contact you before the hearing to tell you the date, time and location of the hearing.

The hearing can be held in-person in a hearing room at an AAT office, by video using Microsoft Teams or by telephone.   

Who will be at the hearing?

As well as you, there will be:

  • the Member(s)
  • an AAT staff member
  • a representative of the NDIA.

There might also be:

  • your representative, such as a lawyer or other professional person, if you have one
  • a support person such as a friend or family member, if you have one
  • any witnesses that you or any other party have asked to give evidence (we do not expect it will be necessary to call witnesses in many cases).

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?

You should:

  • record the date, time and place for the hearing
  • if your hearing is in person, plan to arrive early on the day
  • if your hearing is by telephone or video, make sure you are in a quiet room where you will not be disturbed and be ready to commence at the start time
  • tell us as early as possible if you would like a witness to attend or if you require an interpreter
  • give us and the NDIA any new information, no later than 14 days before the hearing.  You can contact us if you need help doing this
  • you can send us a written summary of your position 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.

What happens at a hearing?

  • The AAT Member will explain what will happen during the hearing.
  • If you are represented by a professional person such as a lawyer, your representative will usually talk on your behalf, unless you are giving evidence.
  • The AAT Member might ask the NDIA's representative 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.
  • You and/or your representative will have an opportunity to present information, and the Member and the NDIA representative can ask questions.
  • Any witnesses will be asked to give evidence. You, or your representative,  the NDIA representative, and the Member can ask questions of each witness.
  • You and the NDIA representative will have an opportunity to give a brief summary of all the main arguments in the review.

Hearings can last less than a day or run for several days depending on factors such as the complexity of the case. 

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
  • 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 NDIA's decision remains unchanged and we will not be able to review the decision.

Changing the 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.

Note: If you requested a fast-track hearing we will not ordinarily change the date, unless there are very good reasons.

What if I do not want to attend a hearing?

You can tell us you do not want to attend the hearing and, if you and the NDIA's representative agree, we might make a decision based on the information we have. This is called a hearing on the papers. This option is only available if both parties agreed and the AAT Member is satisfied that the issues can be determined in the absence of the parties.

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.