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Our role and function

The AAT conducts independent merits review of many administrative decisions made under Commonwealth laws. We review decisions made by Australian Government ministers, departments and agencies, and in limited circumstances, decisions made by state and territory government and non-government bodies. We also review decisions made under Norfolk Island laws.

Our functions, powers and procedures are set out primarily in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act, Parts 5 and 7 of the Migration Act 1958 and in social services legislation that confers jurisdiction on us.

Our jurisdiction

The AAT does not have a general power to review decisions. We can only review a decision if a law states that the decision can be reviewed by the AAT.

We can review decisions made under more than 400 Commonwealth Acts and legislative instruments. The types of decisions that we most commonly review relate to:

  • Australian citizenship
  • child support
  • family assistance and social security
  • migration and refugee visas
  • the National Disability Insurance Scheme
  • taxation
  • veterans’ entitlements, and
  • workers’ compensation under Commonwealth laws.

We also review a wide range of other decisions, including decisions about aged care, bankruptcy, child care services, civil aviation, corporations and financial services regulation, customs, education regulation, freedom of information, marriage celebrants, mutual recognition of occupations, paid parental leave, passports, professional regulation, security assessments by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and unpaid employment entitlements.

We can also review decisions made under certain Norfolk Island laws, including decisions about building, land valuation and planning.

A list of the Commonwealth and Norfolk Island laws, under which decisions that can be reviewed by the AAT may be made, is on our website.

Our powers

Merits review of an administrative decision involves taking a fresh look at the facts, law and policy relating to that decision. In most cases, we can look at new information that was not available to the original decision‑maker. We consider all the material before us and decide what the legally correct decision is or, if there is more than one correct decision, the preferable decision. We can exercise all the powers and discretions available to the original decision-maker. We 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.