6.1 Centrelink Review & Appeal Process
This chapter explains the Centrelink review and appeals process, and covers:
- steps in the Centrelink review and appeals process,
- review of FA decisions,
- decisions made using computer programs,
- review and appeal process for decisions relating to child support matters,
- review of CCB decisions, and
- CCB - action when an appeal is successful.
Steps in the Centrelink review & appeals process
The Centrelink review and appeals process consists of internal and external review mechanisms. Individuals have the right to seek a review if they are not satisfied with a decision of Centrelink.
A quality check of a decision will begin with a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and a review of a decision will begin with an ARO. Where a quality check begins with an SME, the case may progress to an ARO if the individual is not satisfied with the outcome of the SME's quality check.
The levels of review and appeal include:
- internal review process (Centrelink):
- an SME, and/or
- an ARO (1.1.A.140),
- external review process (appeals):
- AAT first review,
- AAT second review,
- Federal Court, and
- High Court.
Explanation: A decision of the Federal Court can be challenged in the High Court but only if the High Court grants leave to appeal.
Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 104 Decisions that may be reviewed by the Secretary on own initiative, section 108 Decisions that may be reviewed under section 109A, section 109A Review of certain decisions may be initiated by applicant, section 109C Authorised review officers, section 111 Application for AAT first review, section 128 Application for AAT second review
Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 section 44 Appeals to Federal Court of Australia from decisions of the Tribunal
Review of FA decisions
All decisions made by Centrelink officers concerning FTB, FTB advances, SIFS and CCB are reviewable through the Centrelink review and appeals process, unless specifically excluded under FA legislation. Reviews may be conducted at the individual's request, or at the initiative of a Centrelink officer if it is considered that there are sufficient grounds for review.
Example: If an individual has had a quality check conducted by an SME, and the individual is not satisfied with the outcome, they can request a review by an ARO (1.1.A.140).
Note: Any reviews relating to decisions on FTB claims lodged with the ATO can only relate to income years up to and including the 2007-08 income year. This is because the option of receiving FTB as a lump sum payment through the ATO ceased on 1 July 2009.
Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 104 Decisions that may be reviewed by the Secretary on own initiative, section 105 Secretary may review certain decisions on own initiative, section 108 Decisions that may be reviewed under section 109A, section 109A Review of certain decisions may be initiated by applicant, section 109C Authorised review officers
Decisions made using computer programs
The Secretary may arrange for the use of computer programs in making decisions under FA law. Decisions made by computer programs are taken to be decisions made by the Secretary. This means, for example, where entitlement determinations are made using computer programs such as rate calculators, they can be reviewed as though those decisions were made by the Secretary or a delegate of the Secretary.
Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 223 Secretary may arrange for use of computer programs to make decisions
Policy reference: FA Guide 6.4 Reconciliation
Review & appeal process for decisions relating to child support matters
See CS Guide Part 4 for a description of child support objections and appeals processes.
CCB decisions made by child care service providers in regard to a family's entitlement of 13 weeks of SCCB are not reviewable. Decisions made about child care service providers by DSS are reviewable, and a further review can be sought through the AAT.
Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 111 Application for AAT first review
CCB - action when an appeal is successful
If an individual appeals successfully during a financial year, Centrelink issues a revised assessment notice for the remainder of the financial year. Centrelink cannot, however, determine their entitlement for the retrospective period until after the reconciliation process at the end of the financial year. At that time, Centrelink issues a credit or debit notice, depending on the relevant circumstances, for the whole year.
If an individual appeals successfully after the end of the financial year, Centrelink should re-determine their entitlement and pay the amount direct to the family.
Notice of decision to be given
Centrelink must provide notice of all review decisions to all parties affected by the decision. The notice of the decision must:
- be in writing,
- state the effect of the decision, and
- provide information about further rights of review.
Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 106 Notice of review decision to be given, section 109B Notice to be given of decisions under section 109A, section 109H Notification of further rights of review, section 222 Decisions to be in writing, section 224 Notice of decisions