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Our organisation

The AAT consists of the President and other members who may be appointed as Deputy Presidents, Senior Members or Members. Their primary role is to hear and decide applications for review of decisions.

Applications made to the AAT are managed in one of nine divisions:

  • Freedom of Information Division
  • General Division
  • Migration and Refugee Division
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme Division
  • Security Division
  • Small Business Taxation Division
  • Social Services and Child Support Division
  • Taxation and Commercial Division, and
  • Veterans’ Appeals Division.

The Small Business Taxation Division commenced on 1 March 2019.

A Deputy President may be assigned as the Head of one or more of our divisions. A Deputy President or Senior Member may be assigned as the Deputy Head of one or more of our divisions.

The President is responsible for the overall management of the AAT with the assistance of the Division Heads and the Registrar. Staff assist the AAT to carry out our functions.

The AAT also hosts the Immigration Assessment Authority, a separate office within the Migration and Refugee Division. More information about the Immigration Assessment Authority can be found in Chapter 5 Immigration Assessment Authority.

Organisational structure, 30 June 2019 shows our organisational structure.

Organisational structure, 30 June 2019This chart shows the AAT's organisational structure as at 30 June 2019.

Members of the AAT

AAT members are appointed by the Governor-General on a full-time or part-time basis for a term of up to seven years. Members may be reappointed.

Qualification requirements for the various member categories are in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act. The President of the AAT must be a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. The other members may be:

  • judges of the Federal Court or Family Court of Australia
  • lawyers of at least five years’ standing, or
  • people with special knowledge or skills.

Members come from a diverse range of backgrounds with expertise in areas such as accountancy, disability, law, medicine, migration, military affairs, public administration, science, social welfare and taxation.

The President and Deputy Presidents can exercise powers in any of the AAT’s divisions. Senior Members and Members may only exercise powers in the division or divisions to which they are assigned.

At 30 June 2019, there were 362 members of the AAT. AAT membership, 30 June 2019 shows the breakdown of the membership by category. Appendix 1: Members of the AAT lists all AAT members at 30 June 2019, including the divisions to which each Senior Member and Member was assigned.

AAT membership, 30 June 2019

CATEGORY OF MEMBER

JUDGE

FULL TIME

PART TIME

TOTAL

M

F

Total

M

F

Total

M

F

Total

M

F

Total

President

1

0

1

1

0

1

Deputy President

Federal Court judge

9

5

14

9

5

14

Family Court judge

3

2

5

3

2

5

Non-judicial

8

2

10

6

0

6

14

2

16

Senior Member

22

13

35

19

6

25

41

19

60

Member

42

34

76

97

93

190

139

127

266

TOTAL

13

7

20

72

49

121

122

99

221

207

155

362

Legend: ‘F’ = female; ‘M’ = male

President, Division Heads and Deputy Division Head

The President of the AAT is Justice David Thomas. He was appointed as a Judge of the Federal Court and as President of the AAT on 27 June 2017 for a term of seven years.

Division Heads and Deputy Division Head, 30 June 2019 lists the AAT’s Division Heads and Deputy Division Head at 30 June 2019.

Division Heads and Deputy Division Head, 30 June 2019

DIVISION

NAME

Division Heads

General Division

Deputy President Peter Britten-Jones

Migration and Refugee Division

Deputy President Jan Redfern PSM

Small Business Taxation Division
Taxation and Commercial Division

Deputy President Bernard McCabe

Deputy Division Head

Migration and Refugee Division

Senior Member Dr Irene O’Connell

Deputy President Jim Walsh was the Division Head of the Social Services and Child Support Division until his appointment ended on 24 March 2019.

See Appendix 1: Members of the AAT for profiles of the President, Division Heads and Deputy Division Head.

Staff of the AAT

The Registrar is a statutory office holder appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the President. In addition to assisting the President in managing the AAT’s administrative affairs, the Registrar undertakes functions relating to the management of applications conferred by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act and other enactments. The Registrar is the Accountable Authority for the AAT under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.

The Registrar is Sian Leathem, who began a five-year appointment on 7 April 2015.

During 2018–19, five officers in Senior Executive Service positions assisted the President, the Division Heads and the Registrar. Senior Executive Service employees, 30 June 2019 lists the SES employees and their areas of responsibility at 30 June 2019.

Senior Executive Service employees, 30 June 2019

POSITION

NAME

Executive Director, Corporate Services

Jacqueline Fredman

Executive Director, Registry Operations

Elizabeth Connolly

Executive Director, Review Support

Bernadette Ryan

Executive Director, Strategy and Policy

Christopher Matthies

Senior Reviewer, Immigration Assessment Authority

Sobet Haddad

Other staff are employed as ongoing, non-ongoing or intermittent employees under the Public Service Act 1999 and as contractors. See Chapter 4 Management and accountability and Appendix 2: Additional staffing statistics for more detailed staffing information.

Registries

District registries

Applicants and other users are able to access the AAT through registries in each state capital city and in the Australian Capital Territory as well as through arrangements for the provision of registry services on Norfolk Island. We provide services to users in the Northern Territory from our other registries.

Staff in our registries:

  • process applications and facilitate the listing and conduct of alternative dispute resolution processes and hearings
  • liaise with parties and representatives about their cases and give them information about our operations and procedures, and
  • provide administrative and other support services to registrars and members.

Conference registrars conduct the majority of the alternative dispute resolution processes held by the AAT in the Freedom of Information, General, NDIS, Small Business Taxation, Taxation and Commercial, and Veterans’ Appeals Divisions. Case assessment registrars and caseload practice managers undertake early case assessment and triaging of different types of applications in the Migration and Refugee Division and the Social Services and Child Support Division. At 30 June 2019, dedicated national teams provided caseload support and legal services for the Migration and Refugee Division and member support services for the Social Services and Child Support Division.

Principal Registry

Principal Registry staff advise and assist the President and the Registrar in managing the AAT’s administrative affairs, and also provide services to members and staff. They are responsible for business support, corporate legal and policy support, financial and human resource management, library and information services, strategy, communications and governance support and technology services.