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Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)

The AAT originated through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 and officially started functioning on July 1, 1976.

On the same date in 2015, the AAT expanded by incorporating the Migration Review Tribunal, Refugee Review Tribunal, and Social Security Appeals Tribunal.

The AAT operates independently to assess the merits of administrative rulings under Commonwealth laws. It holds the authority to scrutinize decisions made by Australian Government officials, departments, agencies, and, under specific conditions, decisions made by state government and non-government entities.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

Migration and Refugee Overview

 

The AAT can review some, but not all, decisions about visas made under the Migration Act 1958 by the Department of Home Affairs, the Minister for Home Affairs or the Minister for Immigration.

Migration

The Migration part of AAT contains information about the review of all visa and visa-related decisions except for:

  • decisions about protection visas, and protection finding decisions made under section 197D of the Migration Act.
  • character-related visa decisions, and
  • decisions to cancel business visas made under section 134 of the Migration Act.

Migration reviews are done in the Migration & Refugee Division of the AAT under Part 5 of the Migration Act.

Refugee

The Refugee part of AAT contains information about the review of:

  • decisions to refuse or cancel a protection visa (except for character-related decisions about protection visas), and
  • decisions under section 197D of the Migration Act that a protection finding would no longer be made about a person.

Refugee reviews are done in the Migration & Refugee Division of the AAT under Part 7 of the Migration Act.

    Character-related and other visa decisions

     

    The Character-related and other visa decisions part of AAT contains information about the review of the following decisions made under the Migration Act:

    • to refuse or cancel any type of visa, including a protection visa, on character grounds under section 501
    • to not revoke the mandatory cancellation of a visa on character grounds under section 501CA
    • to refuse a protection visa on character grounds relying on section 5H(2), 36(1C), or 36(2C)
    • to cancel a business visa under section 134.

    These reviews are done in the General Division of the AAT.

      Functions and powers

       

      Jurisdiction

      AAT can only review a decision if a law states that the decision can be reviewed by the AAT. AAT can review decisions made under more than 400 Commonwealth Acts and legislative instruments. The most common types of decisions AAT review relate to:

      • migration and refugee visas and visa-related decisions
      • Australian citizenship
      • Passports
      • freedom of information
      • child support
      • Commonwealth workers’ compensation
      • family assistance, paid parental leave, social security and student assistance
      • taxation
      • veterans’ entitlements.

      Review of decisions

      AAT review decisions “on the merits”. This means that AAT take a fresh look at the relevant facts, law and policy and arrive at AAT own decision. AAT must make the legally correct decision or, where there can be more than one correct decision, the preferable decision.
      AAT have the power to:

      • affirm a decision
      • vary a decision
      • set aside a decision and substitute a new decision, or
      • remit a decision to the decision-maker for reconsideration.

      AAT aim to provide a review process that:

      • is accessible,
      • is fair, just, economical, informal and quick,
      • is proportionate to the importance and complexity of the matter, and
      • promotes public trust and confidence in the decision-making of the Tribunal.

      The review process varies depending on the type of decision AAT is reviewing.

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