This chapter explains the Centrelink review and appeals process, and covers:
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 review of a decision may begin with the original decision maker or an ARO. Where a review begins with the original decision maker, the case may progress to an ARO if the individual is not satisfied with the outcome of the original decision maker's review.
The levels of review and appeal include:
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 review by SSAT, section 142 Review of decision by AAT, section 144 Review by AAT of other decisions
Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 refer to section 44 Appeals to Federal Court from decisions of the Tribunal
All decisions made by Centrelink officers concerning FTB, FTB advance, baby bonus 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 chosen to have the review conducted by the original decision maker, and the original decision maker affirms the original decision but the individual is still 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
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
The SSAT is an independent statutory body set up to review administrative decisions made by certain Commonwealth agencies. The Registration and Collection Act states that parents aggrieved by most CSA objection decisions made after 1 January 2007 can apply to the SSAT for a review of those decisions. The Tribunal can only review decisions that have been reviewed through CSA's internal objection procedure. There is no charge to apply, and legal representation is not required.
The SSAT reviews the merits of CSA's decision and will take a fresh look at the decision under review. The SSAT can affirm, vary or set aside and replace CSA's decision. The SSAT will consider all the relevant information provided by each party to the SSAT and the applicable child support legislation to determine what is the correct or preferable decision in the circumstances of each case.
An individual who is dissatisfied with a SSAT decision may appeal to the AAT on some matters (e.g. care percentage decisions), but most matters will need to be appealed to a court, on a question of law.
Act reference: Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988 refer to Part VIIA SSAT review of certain decisions
CCB decisions made by child care service providers are not reviewable. Decisions made about child care service providers are only reviewable by the AAT.
Act reference: FA(Admin)Act section 144 Review by AAT of other decisions
If an individual appeals successfully within a financial year, Centrelink issues a revised assessment notice for the rest of the financial year. Centrelink cannot, however, determine their entitlement 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.
Centrelink must provide notice of all review decisions to all parties affected by the decision. The notice of the decision must:
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
Last reviewed: 13 May 2013