By convenor |
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus smiling - suit, red tie, wire-rim glasses

Subject:AAT review risks incomplete, unsatisfactory, and unacceptable outcome

Date:Thu, 31 Aug 2023 14:52:44 +1000

From:Bob Buckley (Co-convenor) <>

Organisation:Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4) <>

CC:The Hon. Mr. Shorten MP <>,


To whom it may concern,

in recent years, I tried to help over 40 autistic NDIS participants, mostly young children and their families, with their NDIS matters in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). I am not a lawyer so I have little or no knowledge of how Australia's legal system in meant to work. My increasing experience of disability-related matters in Australia's legal systems* is that Australia's legal systems are unnecessarily dysfunctional for people with disability; based on what I've seen, it is quite fair to say that for people with disability, Australia has currently an Injustice System. While the eventual outcomes show a degree of fairness, the process for getting there is dysfunctional and traumatising.

I have been particularly concerned about the operation of the AAT in relation young autistic children who need evidence-based early intervention  for their autism. I have repeatedly asked the AAT to review their practice. They have repeatedly promised me they would. They promised that they would contact me as part of their review. Either they have not done a review, or they failed to contact me when doing it.

I understand that the Government is in the process of reviewing the AAT or designing a replacement.

In my role as Co-convenor of Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia (A4), an organisation listed on the DSS website as a disability representative organisation (DRO), I did not see any notice of consultation on the government's AAT review. Despite, my experience in AAT matters, I was not invited to engage with the Government's review or the AAT.

I understand that submissions to the AAT review process are now closed.

From what I can see at this stage, the review fails to address some basic issues, including:

  • is the AAT capable of deciding properly in matters that are a contest of expert opinion? The answer is demonstrably and very clearly "no". The review will fail unless it fully addresses this issue.
  • the AAT's expectation and enforcement of model litigant rules.
  • the basic inability of the AAT (and perhaps the reviewers) to properly comprehend "Section 2A of the AAT Act" in relation to people outside the legal profession, especially people with intellectual, communication, cognitive, and/or psycho-social disability. 

Clearly, the process for reviewing the AAT was not properly consultative; there is substantial risk that the review outcomes will be incomplete, unsatisfactory, and unacceptable.

Please contact me via email or on 04xx xxx xxx to discuss these issues further.

* starting with this debacle:


Bob Buckley

Co-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.

Recipients of correspondence from A4 are all subject to Autism Aspergers Advocacy Australia's policy on unanswered questions that is available at

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