6.1 Centrelink review & appeal process
This chapter explains the Centrelink review and appeal process, and covers:
- steps in the Centrelink review and appeal process
- review of FA decisions
- decisions made using computer programs
- review and appeal process for decisions relating to child support matters
- action when the outcome of a review is favourable, and
- notice of decision to be given.
Steps in the Centrelink review & appeal process
The Centrelink review and appeal process consists of internal and external review mechanisms. Individuals (1.1.I.90) have the right to seek a review if they are not satisfied with a decision of Centrelink.
Where an individual does not understand a decision, they can request an explanation of the decision, which will be provided by a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Where an individual does not agree with a decision, they can apply for a formal review of the decision which will be undertaken by an ARO.
The levels of review and appeal include:
- internal review process (Centrelink)
- an explanation by an SME, and/or
- a formal review by an ARO (1.1.A.140)
- external review process
- review by the AAT - first review
- review by the AAT - second review
- Federal Court appeal, and
- High Court appeal.
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 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, CCS and ACCS are reviewable through the Centrelink review and appeal process, unless specifically excluded under FA legislation. Reviews may be conducted at the individual's request (customer initiated review), or at the initiative of a Centrelink officer if it is considered that there are sufficient grounds for review (Secretary initiated review).
Example: If a decision has been changed as a result of an SME explanation, and the individual is not satisfied with the outcome, they can apply for a formal 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 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.
Action when the outcome of a review is favourable
If an individual has a favourable outcome as the result of a review 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 has a favourable outcome as the result of a review 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 not relating to CCS or ACCS, section 106A Notice of certain review decisions relating to CCS or ACCS, 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