Refugee Council of Australia
Winding bush track with horizon far away

How Australia determines if a person is a refugee

Review by a tribunal

The second main stage in the procedure is review by a tribunal. There are now different tribunals, depending on how people came.

This page describes the process for people who arrived by plane or by boat before 13 August 2012. The next page describes the ‘fast tracking’ process which applies to those who came by boat after that date.

If the Department rejects a person’s application, the next step is to ask for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) to review the decision.

Migration and refugee overview (AAT)

Previously, the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) reviewed the Department’s decision.  This tribunal was merged into the AAT in July 2015. It is now part of the Migration and Refugee Division of the AAT.

Amalgamation of Key Commonwealth Merits Review Tribunals (Media release)

The AAT  is an independent statutory body. The AAT considers whether the person qualifies for protection again (known as ‘merits review’).

The AAT can make the same or a different decision from the Department. If it decides that the Department made the wrong decision, it sends the decision back (‘remits’) to the Department to finalise processing.

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