When you apply to the RRT to have your case reviewed you will have to attend a hearing. The hearing will be similar to the DIAC interview in some ways – it is an opportunity for you to tell the RRT member about your refugee claim.
The hearing will give you a chance to present your story to the RRT and to present other evidence or witnesses you might have to support your refugee claim to the RRT. It also gives you a chance to explain any issues which were raised by the DIAC about your case to the RRT.
How do I prepare?
Please click on the headings below to find out more about each of the things you should do to prepare your case for the RRT.
Fill in the response to hearing invitation form
On this form you can tell the RRT about:
- Whether you need and need an interpreter and if you do – any special requirements like your language, dialect, the gender of the interpreter.
- Whether you have a migration agent assisting you.
- Whether you have any witnesses to help prove your case.
Get the DIAC file about your case
If you ask for a copy of the whole DIAC file this will give you access to documents you submitted and also to most of the other documents held by the DIAC about your case. It can be a good thing to see what these are.
Read the DIAC file and the DIAC decision and be prepared to respond to it
The RRT member can make a new decision about your case, and will give you a fresh hearing and a second chance to have your case reviewed. However the member will have read your DIAC file and the DIAC case officer’s decision and the RRT member might have some of the same concerns about your case.
It is a good idea to read the DIAC file and think about how you can respond to any issues raised by the DIAC about your case before you go to the hearing. If you have a migration agent they may help you to prepare a statement or a legal submission to address some of the issues raised by the DIAC and send it to the RRT before the hearing.
Collect new evidence and new supporting information
Further supporting documents
If you are submitting documents then you should provide certified copies of those documents before the hearing if you can along with an explanation of how they are relevant to your case. You should bring the originals of all documents with you to the hearing.
If you are providing new documents in support of your application to the RRT they may ask you why these documents were not provided to the DIAC when you first applied for a Protection visa. You will need to be ready to explain yourself if these are documents that could have been provided sooner.
If you are submitting documents then you should provide certified copies of those documents and have the originals with you at the hearing. It is a good idea to provide certified copies to the RRT together with a cover letter explaining why they are relevant to your case. If you do not have a migration agent to certify these documents for you, any chemist at a pharmacy can do this for you for free.
If you do provide documents to the RRT, they can have these documents checked to make sure that they are real. If the documents are not real – this can mean that the RRT will wonder if they can believe the other parts of your story and it may go against your case.
Supporting witness statements
It is really important that any information you provide to the RRT is genuine. If you do have witnesses – make sure that they can speak from their personal knowledge of you. You should be careful not to coach them about what to say. The RRT member will ask them questions to test their evidence and if they are not speaking from their personal knowledge and experience then this will be obvious to the RRT member and it could go against your case.
It can be tempting to find witnesses or documents to help strengthen your case, but if you do this and these documents and witnesses are not real and genuine, then this will affect your case very badly. If the RRT sees that one thing is not true in your case, then they might not believe any part of your story.
Prepare to explain any changes in your circumstances to the RRT
- If family, friends, members of your social group, political organisation etc have been killed, kidnapped or tortured in your home country since the DIAC decision.
- If family or friends are reporting to you that the government/police/military have been looking for you in your home country.
- If the political party that you are a member of has since been banned in your country.
- If you or your family have received threats.
- If there has been a change in government in your home country – you will need to explain how this change effects you and your claims to protection.
- If you have married an Australian or had a child in Australia.
- If you have seen a Doctor or psychologist in relation to a medical or psychological condition that impacts on your protection claim then you should obtain an up-to-date report from that psychologist or Doctor.
What should I expect?
Please click on the headings below to find out more information about what will happen at the RRT hearing:
What is the hearing room like?
Who will be at the hearing?
What do I call the RRT Member?
Will I have to promise to tell the truth?
Is the hearing confidential?
Will the hearing be recorded?
What if the RRT finds information which goes against my case?
If the member has found any information which goes against your case then they will usually give you a chance to respond to it during the hearing or sometime after the hearing. If the RRT finds any negative information about you (information that will cause your appeal application to fail) then it will notify you and ask you to comment on that information. This is called a S424AA notice.
The RRT can give you a chance to comment on negative information during the hearing or they can send you a letter after the hearing saying what the negative information is so that you have a chance to respond to it. If the RRT asks you to comment on the information during the hearing and you don’t feel ready to, you can ask to be given time to comment and the RRT can let you respond later in writing. If you do receive a letter telling you about negative information, there will usually be a time limit for you to respond. If you can not respond in the time limit, then you should ask for an extension.
If you receive a s424AA letter, It is important that you do not ignore this request, because if you do ignore it, then you might miss the opportunity to explain the things the RRT member is concerned about. This might have a negative effect on your case.
Don’t be worried if the RRT member asks you about negative information. It is actually good to know what the member’s concerns are so that you can respond to them. If you feel nervous or worried about responding at the time of the hearing, just ask for more time to respond.
Can my migration agent help?
What can my migration agent do before the hearing?
- Get a copy of the DIAC file through a Freedom of Information request.
- Review the DIAC file and the DIAC officer’s decision.
- Write a statement to respond to any issues in the DIAC officer’s decision.
- Write a legal submission to respond to any issues in the DIAC officer’s decision.
- Work out what further evidence would be helpful to your case.
- Research information about your country which may be helpful to your case.
- Help you to fill in the response to hearing invitation.
- Understand what will happen during the hearing.
What can my migration agent do during the hearing?
During the hearing you will have to present your story to the RRT member. You will have to answer the RRT member’s questions. Your migration agent cannot answer the questions for you during the hearing.
During the hearing your migration agent can:
- Make sure that you are getting a fair hearing and intervene if you are not.
- Make sure that you understand all the questions and that the RRT member understands all of your answers.
- Let the member know if there things which you should be asked about.
- Make a submission to the RRT at the end of your hearing to explain how your case fits into the Refugee Convention and to explain how the country information fits your case.