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Migration Alliance & MIA conference today with the Principal Member of the Migration Review Division (AAT)

The Principal Member of the MRD Division of the AAT hosted the MIA and Migration Alliance on a joint conference call from 4:00PM to 4:30PM Eastern Standard Time (Sydney). The following matters were discussed. I was present on that call for and on behalf of Migration Alliance, and these are my notes:

Discussion points:

  • Position on hearings and whether there will be consistency across the states / territories
  • Position on priority cases and whether the direction needs changing during this time
  • How detention cancellation cases will be organised
  • S.501 cases and the 84 day rule – how they are to be addressed
  • Encouraging the continued processing of applications – moving to more on the papers / requests in writing
  • Discouraging a complete stop work at the AAT
  • Potentially targeting cases that are easy to decide on the papers (485 cases, Employer Nomination, Student GTE and fund cases, partner visas) and a call out identifying these cases and how to contact the AAT ( ie. Specific email address to the AAT to address such cases)
  • Sending letters similar to the protection cohort to state this case is moving towards allocation so submissions etc can be done
  • Telephone and video link hearings – how they will work
  • Is the AAT going to be fully operational re staffing etc.
  • How will the protection visa hearings be operated or will they be on hold 

The AAT is keeping pace with an evolving situation with Coronavirus.

The AAT is moving towards telephone hearings in their entirety, including translators and witnesses.

The AAT is triaging cases to see if they can fast-track some cases based on the papers. If a case is decision-ready or hearing-ready then agents should send emails to the following email address explaining why the case is decision-ready:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (we are awaiting re-confirmation from the AAT on this email address) 

Agents are encouraged not use any other email address than the one above as emails sent to any other email address may not be read. The email above is the one which will be monitored constantly.

Principal Member of the MRD, Jan Redfern said that it is a challenging environment.  Very soon there will be something up on the AAT website about how they are going to do business so agents should monitor the website closely.  There is already messaging up on the website and this will be updated:

The AAT is targeting cases which are easier to decide on the papers.

The AAT is starting to talk about short, medium and long term strategy.

The AAT might be finding that one of the strategies is to allocate cases to members which are "hearing ready" or "decision ready". As we know the AAT has a huge number of active cases on hand.

Regarding Protection visas, it is about engaging as much as they can and people being cooperative and understanding the environment the AAT are working with.

The AAT are working towards operating as much as possible, remotely around the place, for a whole lot of reasons. The AAT is not fully operational and cannot be in this environment.

Practising social distancing and doing what they can to provide a service safely is the priority for the AAT at this time.

If agents are contacted by the AAT then it is expected that the agent writes back to the AAT to their normal mailbox. Agents should write back IMMEDIATELY and explain what the issues are (if any) and clarify questions sent by the AAT Member. The AAT/MRD will be looking at it.

The next scheduled liaison meeting with the AAT with MIA, MA, Law Council and other stakeholders will be on or around the 9 April 2020 (approximately 2 weeks from today).

The Registry is shutting tomorrow. There will be no hearings tomorrow. Agents should continue to lodge online or post in what they need to, but not attend in person. The AAT Registry does not want to expose their staff to unnecessary health risks, so agents and their clients are encouraged not to attend the Registry tomorrow.

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