By convenor |
Subject: please provide Applicants with access to evidence in the AAT
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 2022 18:33:31 +1100
From: Bob Buckley (A4 Convenor) <>

Dear Attorney-General

your action today to reform the Administrative Appeals Tribunal is extremely welcome. As a Disability Representative Organisation, Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) often sees demonstrated how spectacularly dysfunction the current Tribunal is. The Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 says:

2A  Tribunal’s objective

                   In carrying out its functions, the Tribunal must pursue the objective of providing a mechanism of review that:

                     (a)  is accessible; and

                     (b)  is fair, just, economical, informal and quick; and

                     (c)  is proportionate to the importance and complexity of the matter; and

                     (d)  promotes public trust and confidence in the decision‑making of the Tribunal.

Currently, the Tribunal fails in all of these for NDIS participants who try to use its decision review process.

For example, the Tribunal fails to make essential evidence in an Applicant's case available to the Applicant ... which means the Tribunal is inaccessible as a mechanism of review. Applicants are denied the recordings or videos of hearings that are essential evidence for inexperienced Applicants. The best an Applicant can hope for is to pay thousands of dollars for a transcript, but that is something few NDIS participants can afford. Clearly, the AAT is not "economic". Very few can afford a lawyer - and most lawyer lack the knowledge needed to present a case for an autistic child anyway.

In my experience, the Tribunal treats non-lawyers extremely unfairly. They are denied due process. They are often misinformed or denied essential information about the process. They are routinely prevented from providing evidence and making their case.

Tribunal processes are kept remarkably formal. There is little observable informality.

Autistic children seeking reviews of decisions about early intervention endure review processes that take a year of more. A two-year old whose (relatively quick) case takes a year will have spent 1/3 of its life in the Tribunal. That is not "quick". They say, "justice delayed is justice denied", which is especially true for autistic children who are denied their essential early intervention by Australia's Injustice System in this way.

This is not a just system. This completely fails to "promotes public trust and confidence".

One of the first steps you could make to reform the Tribunal would be to ensure Applicants in NDIS matters can at least get a sound or video record of their hearings so they can review evidence and prepare submissions. It is a very simple step with very little cost. The risk of external scrutiny of  conduct in the Tribunal could immediately improve some of the Tribunal's and the Respondent's unacceptable conduct.


Bob Buckley
Convenor, Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4)

Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia, known as A4, is the national grassroots organisation advocating for autistic people, their families, carers and associates. A4 is internet based so that Australians anywhere can participate.
Note for politicians and bureaucrats – Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia's policy on unanswered questions is available at

A4 recognises and respects the traditional owners, the elders past, present and emerging of lands in Australia. Sovereignty was never ceded.

“The first step in solving any problem is recognising there is one.” Jeff Daniels as Will McEvoy in The Newsroom.

A4 found out subsequently that:

  • the Applicant can request Tribunal recordings using the Freedom of Information law; and
  • in the event that the Respondent obtains a transcript of the evidence (what is said at Hearing), that can (will?) be provided to the Applicant as well.

Subject: Reply to correspondence received by the Attorney-General and Cabinet Secretary [SEC=OFFICIAL]
Date: 4 Jan 2023 11:47:00 +1100


Dear Mr Buckley

Please find attached reply to your correspondence that was received by the Attorney-General and Cabinet Secretary.

The response is provided in Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF).  If you do not have software capable of reading PDF documents, you may download a free version from

Please do not respond to this email as this mailbox is not monitored.  If you wish to provide further correspondence to the Attorney-General, please use the below details.




Postal Address

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC, MP


Cabinet Secretary

PO Box 6022

Parliament House


Yours sincerely

Ministerial Correspondence Unit
Attorney-General’s Department



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