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Performance

Caseload information

As shown in IAA caseload overview, 2015–16 to 2018–19, the number of referrals to the IAA was lower in 2018–19 than in 2017–18 and 2016–17. The IAA received an average of 128 referrals per month in 2018–19, a 31 per cent reduction compared with the previous year.

The top five countries of reference of referred applicants in 2018–19 were Sri Lanka, Iran, Vietnam, Iraq and Pakistan. IAA referrals by country of reference, 2018–19 shows the number and proportion of referrals made for these five and all other countries. While Sri Lanka remained the largest source country of referrals overall, the IAA has seen a decrease in the proportion of Sri Lankan cases referred in 2017–18 and 2018–19 compared with 2016–17 and a corresponding increase in the proportion of cases relating to Iran referred over those same years.

IAA caseload overview, 2015–16 to 2018–19

REFERRALS

FINALISATIONS

ON HAND AT
YEAR END

MEDIAN TIME TO FINALISE (WEEKS)

2015–16a

264

130

134

5

2016–17

2,664

1,604

1,194

11

2017–18

2,223

2,481

936

28

2018–19

1,538

2,382

92

12

a The IAA commenced operations in October 2015.

IAA referrals by country of reference, 2018–19Pie chart showing referrals to the Immigration Assessment Authority by country of reference in 2018–19. The country of reference categories are ‘Sri Lanka’, ‘Iran’, ‘Vietnam’, ‘Iraq’, ‘Pakistan’ and ‘Other’.

The IAA finalised 2,382 cases in 2018–19, four per cent fewer than the number finalised in 2017–18, leaving 92 cases on hand at 30 June 2019. The median number of weeks from referral to decision for the reporting period was 12 weeks, a reduction from the 28-week median timeframe in 2017–18. This can largely be attributed to the reduction in referrals and backlog of cases.

In 2018–19, the IAA affirmed the decision under review in 2,118 cases. The decision was remitted to the Department for reconsideration in 184 cases. Eighty cases were finalised on the basis that they were referred to the IAA in error. The increase in cases found to be referred in error during 2018–19 was primarily a consequence of the decision of the Federal Court in DBB16 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2018] FCAFC 178. A summary of the case is set out below.

Outcomes of IAA reviews, 2017–18 to 2018–19 shows the outcomes for cases finalised in 2017–18 and 2018–19.

Outcomes of IAA reviews, 2017–18 to 2018–19

DECISION AFFIRMED

DECISION REMITTED

OTHERa

No

% of total

No

% of total

No

% of total

2017–18

2,217

89%

238

10%

26

1%

2018–19

2,118

89%

184

8%

80

3%

a Cases referred to the IAA in error.

The IAA may publish written statements of reasons for its decisions that the President thinks are of particular interest: 237 IAA decisions made in 2018–19 were published on the IAA website.

Appeals

An applicant or the Minister may seek judicial review of decisions made by the IAA under Part 8 of the Migration Act. Applications must be made to the Federal Circuit Court and decisions may be subject to further appeal. As shown in IAA court appeals lodged and finalised, 2017–18 to 2018–19, a significant proportion of IAA decisions are subject to judicial review. In the period to 30 June 2019, all initial applications have been lodged by applicants who did not receive a favourable decision.

During the reporting year, the Federal Circuit Court finalised 1,121 judicial review applications. In 169 of those applications (15 per cent), the case was remitted to the IAA: 118 by consent and 51 by judgment. There have been 553 further appeals lodged against decisions of the Federal Circuit Court, including 505 to the Federal Court and 48 to the High Court. Of these appeals, 65 were lodged by the Minister (60 of which related to DBB16-affected matters) and the remaining 488 were by applicants appealing a decision to dismiss the judicial review application.

IAA court appeals lodged and finalised, 2017–18 to 2018–19 shows the outcomes of judicial review applications that have been finally determined in the last two financial years. As at 30 June 2019, a total of 3,738 applications remain unresolved, including appeals against decisions of the Federal Circuit Court.

IAA court appeals lodged and finalised, 2017–18 to 2018–19

COURT APPEALS LODGED

COURT APPEALS FINALISEDc

Lodgeda

Proportion of total IAA decisionsb

Allowed

Dismissed or Discontinued

Total appeals finalised

Remitted

Set asided

No

%

No

No

No

No

2017–18e

1,970

79.4%

100

0

209

309

2018–19

1,956

82.1%

215

230

500

945

TOTAL

3,926

80.7%

315

230

709

1,254

a These figures include some appeals lodged in relation to decisions made in a previous year.

b These figures represent the number of appeals lodged in each period as a proportion of all IAA decisions made in that reporting year that could have been appealed to the courts.

c Where a decision of a judge of the Federal Circuit Court, a single judge of the Federal Court or the Full Court of the Federal Court has been appealed, only the ultimate result is counted for the purpose of these statistics.

d These figures relate to cases where the courts have determined the IAA had no jurisdiction to conduct the review following the judgment in DBB16.

e The figures for the number of appeals lodged and finalised in 2017–18 differ from those published in the Annual Report 2017–18. The IAA was notified of additional appeals lodged in the Federal Circuit Court and further appeals lodged in the higher courts after the figures were prepared for that report.

Significant court decision

DBB16 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2018] FCAFC 178

This case was an appeal from a judgment of the Federal Circuit Court dismissing an application for judicial review of a decision of the IAA. The appellant had arrived in Australia on a boat escorted to Western Lagoon within Ashmore Reef. The IAA can only review a ‘fast track decision in relation to a fast track applicant’. In order to be a ‘fast track applicant’, a person must be an ‘unauthorised maritime arrival’ as defined in the Migration Act which includes a person who entered Australia by sea at an ‘excised offshore place at any time after the excision time for that place’. The Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands is an ‘excised offshore place’ and the Western Lagoon had been declared a ‘port’ for the purpose of entering Australia by sea. The Federal Court determined that the instrument appointing the Western Lagoon as a port was invalid. As a result, the appellant was found not to be an ‘unauthorised maritime arrival’ and therefore not a ‘fast track applicant’. The IAA’s decision was quashed as it had no jurisdiction to review the delegate’s decision.

Following the judgment, the Department of Home Affairs confirmed that 74 cases before the IAA were affected by the Full Federal Court’s judgment in DBB16. As a result, these cases were determined to have been referred to the IAA in error. Additionally, a significant number of cases already finalised by the IAA relating to persons who had arrived at Ashmore Reef were subsequently overturned by the courts.

Complaints

Complaints may be made orally or in writing. The IAA encourages staff to address any issues or concerns raised by applicants or their representatives at the time of interaction where possible. In circumstances where an issue cannot be readily resolved, the person is advised that they may make a written complaint.

During 2018–19, the IAA received four complaints relating to decisions of the IAA and procedural issues in the review process. The IAA assessed each complaint and provided a written response. While none of the complaints finalised in the reporting period were upheld, the IAA identified areas in which administrative processes could be, and have since been, improved.