Step by step guide to applying to NCAT for the review of an administrative decision made by a government agency.
Step 1: Check that NCAT can review the decisionStep 2: Consider whether you need legal representationStep 3: Apply to NCAT to have the decision reviewedStep 4: Lodge the application form by the deadlineStep 5: Consider whether to apply for a temporary suspension of the original decisionStep 6: Receive a letter from NCAT and documents from the government agencyStep 7: Attend a directions hearingStep 8: Prepare for the hearingStep 9: Take part in the hearingStep 10: Receive NCAT's decisionStep 11: Consider appealing the decision if you are not satisfied
The agency which made the decision will tell you if your decision can be reviewed. If you are unsure whether NCAT can review a decision, you may need to check the list of Acts which authorise NCAT to review a decision.
Generally, you have to ask the original decision maker (the government department or agency) to review the decision before coming to NCAT. This is called an internal review. You must write to the government department to request an internal review within 28 days of being told of the decision.
In some cases, you can apply to NCAT for a review of a decision about a child care provider or authorised carer (foster parent) without applying for an internal review first. This is the case when:
a decision is exempt from an internal review; or
an urgent review of the decision is needed to protect your interests
You can ask the government agency or NCAT if your decision is exempt.
If you do not agree with the internal review decision or you have not received a response from the government agency to your request for an internal review within 21 days, you may apply to NCAT to have the decision reviewed.
You can either present your own case to NCAT or have a lawyer or non-lawyer agent represent you. You will usually need to be present to give your instructions to your lawyer or agent.
Your lawyer or agent needs to fill out a
Notice of Representation and submit it to the registry in person or by post. If a non-lawyer agent is representing you, you also need to sign the Notice before it is submitted. In both cases, you have to send a copy of the Notice to the government agency which made the original decision.
Your agent needs to ask for permission from the Tribunal member the next time the case is listed. You should be present with the agent in case the Tribunal does not allow the agent to appear for you. A lawyer does not need to ask for permission from the member.
To apply to NCAT, you need to fill out an
application for review form.
You will need to include the following information on your application for review form:
your name, address and telephone number.
the name of the government agency that made the decision you want reviewed.
the date the original decision and the internal review decision were made.
a copy of the original decision and internal review decision (this is normally the letter sent to you by the government agency).
a brief outline of why you think the decision is wrong.
You need to lodge your application to NCAT within 28 days from when you are notified of the internal review decision. You need to post or bring the application form to NCAT registry. You cannot lodge it online or by email or fax.
If you want to lodge an application but the deadline has passed, you have to ask the Tribunal for an extension. You will need to give a good reason for not lodging the application within the time allowed. It will be up to NCAT to decide at a directions hearing whether or not to accept a late application.
There is no fee for lodging an application to NCAT about a decision about a child care provider or authorised carer.
While you wait for NCAT to review the decision, the decision still applies and the agency can still implement it.
You can ask for the agency's decision to be suspended while you are waiting for a review by NCAT. This is called a 'stay'. You can fill out an
Application for a Stay of a Reviewable Decision form. Please post or bring your application to NCAT registry. You cannot fax the application or lodge it via the internet.
You need to explain your reasons for asking for the government agency's decision to be suspended after also considering the views of the government agency.
You will receive a letter from NCAT telling you that your application has been received. You will be given a date to come to NCAT for a directions hearing.
You will also receive documents from the government agency that it considers are relevant to the decision.
At the 'directions hearing', a member of NCAT will talk to you and a representative from the government agency about how the application will be resolved. Normally directions will be made for you to provide evidence and submissions that you wish to rely on at a hearing and for the other parties to provide evidence and submissions in response.
You should look through the documents that the agency has provided to you and decide what further information the Tribunal will need when hearing your case.
At the directions hearing you may have been asked to file and serve a statement or affidavit from yourself or other witnesses. See more information about
evidence and witnesses.
You must give a copy of any statements or other documents that you want to rely on to the Tribunal and to the other party by the deadline given to you at the directions hearing.
NCAT's hearings are less formal than court hearings. In most cases, the application will be heard by a single judicial member.
When the Tribunal is reviewing administrative decisions, the respondent (the government agency) will usually give its evidence first. After the agency has given its evidence, the applicant will present his or her evidence. In these cases the Tribunal’s role is to decide whether the administrator made the correct decision.
Find further information about
what happens during a hearing.
In some cases, NCAT member will be able to give you their decision at the end of the hearing. However, in most cases the member will need time to consider the case and will give their decision at a later date. You will usually receive the decision in less than three months. Complex matters may take longer.
NCAT can make various decisions including:
You will receive a letter telling you of the decision that NCAT has made.
Some legislation prohibits the publication or broadcasting of the name of (or any other information that may identify) the applicant, witnesses and children the subject of the application. Although this provision does not prevent the Tribunal from publishing a decision which includes the names of a party or witness, the Tribunal’s general practice is not to do so.For more information about the publication of the name of a party or witness, read Guideline - Confidentiality, privacy and publication [PDF 58kB].
You may have the right of appeal to the Appeal Panel of NCAT, if you can establish that the Tribunal went wrong either in the procedure it followed, or the way it applied the law to the facts of your case. Learn more about
In some instances there is also a right of appeal to the
NSW Supreme Court. If you are not sure of your appeal rights, you should
seek legal advice.