The Administrative Appeals Tribunal which commenced operations on 1 July 1976 exercises powers in areas which include the general administrative, security appeals, taxation appeals and veterans appeals divisions. The role of the Tribunal is to provide independent merits review of administrative decisions and aims to provide a review mechanism that is fair, just, economical, informal and quick.
The Tribunal has jurisdiction to review decisions made under more than 400 Commonwealth Acts and Legislative instruments. The largest part of the Tribunal's workload arises from applications about decisions in the areas of family assistance, social security, taxation, veteran affairs and workers compensation.
The Tribunal however also has power to review decisions in relation to bankruptcy, child support, civil aviation, citizenship and immigration, corporations and financial services regulation, customs, freedom of information, industry assistance, mutual recognition of occupations, passports and security assessments by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation.
The Tribunal is not always the first avenue for review of an administrative decision and often it cannot review a decision until there has been an internal review by the primary decision maker, for example, the Government agency that made the original decision. In other cases the review by the Tribunal is only available after intermediate review by a specialist Tribunal; for example in relation to matters relating to family assistance or social security, a decision may be made only after review by the Social Security Appeals Tribunal.
TheAdministrative Appeals Tribunal Actrequires that proceedings of the Tribunal be conducted with as little formality and technicality and with as much expedition as the requirements of the Act and a proper consideration of the matter before the Tribunal permits.
The Tribunal is not bound by the rules of evidence and can inform itself in any manner it considers appropriate. Accordingly many people that appear before the Tribunal are unrepresented however legal representation is allowed. At times individuals seek assistance only in preparing their case and then present the case themselves to the Tribunal at the time of hearing.