The Guides to Social Policy Law is a collection of publications designed to assist decision makers administering social policy law. The information contained in this publication is intended only as a guide to relevant legislation/policy. The information is accurate as at the date listed at the bottom of the page, but may be subject to change. To discuss individual circumstances please contact Services Australia.

4.2.1 Overview


The AAT is an independent statutory body set up to review administrative decisions made by certain Commonwealth agencies. Under the CSRC Act and the AAT Act, a person who is aggrieved by an objection decision made by the Registrar may apply to the AAT for a review of the decision.

Act references


AAT Act section 29, section 37, section 43


A person can apply to the AAT for an AAT first review of an objection decision, the refusal of an extension of time to object, or a decision relating to the date of effect of a care percentage objection decision. A person can also apply to the AAT for an AAT second review of certain decisions relating to care percentage determinations and decisions by the AAT to refuse an extension of time to apply for a first review. See 4.2.2 for information about decisions which can be reviewed by the AAT and 4.2.3 for information about how to apply to the AAT.

The AAT provides a mechanism of external review that is fair, just, economical, informal and quick. There is a statutory time limit for a parent to make their application in most cases (AAT Act section 29, CSRC Act section 90). The AAT can grant an extension of time for a person to make their first review application. 4.2.4 has information on the time limits that are relevant to applications for AAT review.

Generally the parties to an AAT proceeding (whether first or second review) are the applicant, the Registrar and the other parent affected by the decision. If a non-parent carer could have applied for a review of the decision, then they are also a party to the review. If the decision being reviewed is an objection decision regarding penalties, or an extension of time decision made by the Registrar, then generally only the applicant and the Registrar are parties to the review.

The Registrar must provide the AAT with a written statement of reasons for the decision and copies of all relevant documents (AAT Act section 37). The AAT will inform the other parent and any other party of the application and arrange for a private hearing. See 4.2.5 for more information on the review process.

The AAT reviews the merits of the Registrar's decision and will take a fresh look at the decision under review. The AAT can affirm, vary or set aside and replace the Registrar's decision. The AAT will consider all the relevant information provided by each party and the applicable child support legislation to determine the correct or preferable decision in the circumstances of each case.

The AAT's decision will have effect from the same date as the original decision, or a date specified by the AAT (AAT Act section 43(6)). The Registrar must give effect to the AAT's decision as soon as possible after it is made.

If an AAT second review application cannot be made, a party dissatisfied with an AAT first review decision may appeal to a court on a question of law. A party dissatisfied with an AAT second review decision may appeal to a court on a question of law (see 4.3.6 on appeals and court orders under the CSRC Act).

More information on the AAT review process is available at the AAT website.

Last reviewed: