NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)

Information and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who want to resolve a legal problem at NCAT.

What is NCAT?

How is NCAT different to court?

Where is NCAT located?

Frequently asked questions

Terms you should know

Where to get legal help
 

What is NCAT?

NCAT is a place that can help you sort out a wide range of legal problems, such as:

  • Renting and shopping
  • Strata and home building
  • Review of decisions made by NSW government agencies
  • Anti-discrimination
  • Appointing someone to make decisions for a person with a decision-making disability.

NCAT can make orders to get things fixed, money paid back or problems sorted out. NCAT is a place where you can get a fair go

View our case types to find out if NCAT can resolve your legal problem.

How is NCAT different to court?

NCAT is much more informal than court. You do not need a lawyer and are encouraged to speak for yourself.

You and the other party will be asked to tell your side of the story. NCAT will then decide what is fair based on what you and the other party tell the Tribunal Member. NCAT will make orders which everyone has to follow and respect.

Where is NCAT located?

NCAT holds hearings at 75 locations across NSW so it is unlikely you will need to travel far for a hearing. Our Registry offices are located in Sydney and regional NSW. Find your closest NCAT Registry Office.  

Frequently asked questions

Making an application

How do I apply to NCAT?

You will need to fill in an application form. Check your case type to find out how to apply and any other information you may need.

How much does it cost?

The fee will depend on the type of application. If you are a concession card holder you can pay the reduced fee. If you are not in a position to pay the fee you can apply for a fee waiver.

Where do I lodge the application form?

Download an NCAT application form or apply online. You can also lodge your form at any NCAT Registry or your nearest Service NSW.

What happens next?

NCAT will send a 'Notice of Listing' to you and the other parties. The notice includes the time and place for your hearing. It is important you attend the hearing as this is your opportunity to tell your side of the story.

Preparing for the hearing

How can I get ready for the hearing?

You will need to prepare for your hearing so you can present the best possible case. You can do this by:

  • Writing down the issues you have with the other person or organisation.
  • Getting your evidence together. This might include receipts, invoices, bills, letters, leases, statements and/or photos.
  • Practicing telling your story out loud in front of family and friends.
  • Finding out what happens at NCAT by sitting in on someone else's hearing.
  • Asking a support service for help if you need it.

Can someone else speak on my behalf?

Write to NCAT before the hearing day to ask permission for someone to 'represent you'. Include the person's name and explain why you want them to speak for you. NCAT will consider your request and decide whether to approve it. 

The following support services are available if you need legal advice:

Can family and friends come along to the hearing?

Yes, bring anyone along for support at the hearing. If they are going to talk for you, make sure you ask the Tribunal Member first.

On the hearing day

Tribunal Members 

Tribunal Members are the 'decision makers' of NCAT. They sit at the front of the hearing room. The parties presenting their case sit at tables facing the Member.

Conciliation

Depending on what your case is about, the Tribunal Member may ask you to try conciliation. This means you and the other person talk to each other and try to work out your own solution. A conciliator may be available to help. If you can't reach an agreement, the hearing will go ahead.

During the hearing

At the hearing, the Tribunal Member will ask you to tell your side of the story and show your evidence. They will usually ask questions along the way. 

The decision

After listening to both sides, the Tribunal Member will make a decision. The written orders will be either given to you straight after the hearing or sent at a later date. Everyone has to follow and respect these orders.

Terms you should know

NCAT
NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT)
Conciliation
A meeting between the parties to try and reach an agreement both sides are happy with.
Evidence
Facts or information you can use to prove or disprove a point.
Hearing
Where the Tribunal hears evidence from all people involved in the matter and a decision is made.
Orders
A legally binding NCAT decision. It requires a person or business to take an action, for example, pay money or replace something.
​Notice of listing
A letter sent to the parties with details about where and when the hearing will take place.
Party
​Someone who is directly involved in the matter. This includes the person or organisation who lodged the application and the person or organisation who received a notice of listing.
Tribunal Member
The person responsible for deciding what is fair and making orders to resolve the problem.


Where to get legal help

Aboriginal Legal Service 
The Aboriginal Legal Service provides legal assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in NSW.

NSW Aboriginal Tenants A​​​​dvice Services 
NSW Aboriginal Tenants Advice Services provide free advice and advocacy for Aboriginal tenants living in NSW.

LawAccess NSW
Visit the LawAccess NSW webpage Are you Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and Need Legal Help? 

Accessing the tribunal

'Accessing the Tribunal' by Mandy Davis

About the artist

Born in Forster on the NSW mid north coast, Mandy Davis is of the Biripi people and also has
connections to the Worimi people. Mandy began painting in 1990, and her work is acknowledged
both nationally and internationally, receiving many commendations and awards.