Independent disability advocates around the country have shared their experience and expertise to recommend a better appeals system for people with disability who use the NDIS and call for an urgent increase in funding for advocacy.

When people with disability that use the NDIS disagree with a decision that the NDIA makes about their supports, they can end up in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or the AAT.

The Federal Government is changing the AAT, and wanted to know what people with disability and disability advocates wanted the new tribunal to be like.

DANA talked to many of the advocacy organisations around the country who work alongside people with disability to appeal to the AAT. Advocates talked about the many problems in the AAT, and how unfair the process has been for people with disability.

They also talked about how the new tribunal and decision process can be made better for everyone, most importantly for people with disability. Here are the key areas that will make the new appeals system fairer.

Key elements

People with disability need to have a say about what this new system looks like and how it works.

There are some key principles that need to be built into any legislation about the new tribunal. These principles are:

  • Person-centred
  • Inclusive
  • Accessible
  • Culturally safe
  • Inquisitorial
  • Informal
  • Independent
  • Timely
  • Transparent
  • Human rights-focussed

These principles should apply across the whole tribunal and not only for, say, NDIS Appeals.

If many of the same issues are coming before the tribunal, they need to be linked with systemic change. The tribunal should also develop principles for dealing with similar issues, so that its decisions are more consistent.

The new system must have expertise and experience about disability, including having people with disability involved. The tribunal should also have members from a range of backgrounds.

The process must be simpler with clear guidelines that everyone can understand.

There needs to be more time for people with disability to make an appeal.

This system must have no fees to use it.

When the new tribunal makes a decision, that should be made public and the NDIA needs to learn from it.

Advocates and people with disability have reported the lawyers for the NDIA can behave badly and this has to be fixed.

There is an urgent need for more advocacy support for people with disability who are appealing to fix their NDIS supports.

The system has to be more accessible and trauma-informed.

The NDIA has to stop demanding new reports and then rejecting what they find. If the NDIA require new evidence, they should pay for that, not people with disability.


You can read the full submission here: DANA Submission – Administrative Review Reform – 12 May 2023

We acknowledge and thank the following organisations for contributing to this submission through their participation in forums and/or written input:

  • Action for More Independence and Dignity in Accommodation Inc. (AMIDA)
  • ACTION for people with disability
  • Advocacy WA
  • Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  • Brain Injury SA
  • Council for Intellectual Disability (CID)
  • Darwin Community Legal Service (DCLS)
  • Disability Advocacy NSW
  • Disability Advocacy Service – Alice Springs
  • Down Syndrome Australia
  • Disability Resources Centre (DRC Advocacy)
  • Family Advocacy
  • First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN)
  • Illawarra Advocacy
  • Inclusion Australia
  • Intellectual Disability Rights Service (IDRS)
  • Leadership Plus
  • Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of NSW (MDAA)
  • Melbourne East Disability Advocacy (MEDA)
  • NPY Women’s Council
  • People With Disability Australia (PWDA)
  • Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC)
  • Rights Information and Advocacy Centre (RIAC)
  • Rights and Inclusion Australia
  • Side By Side Advocacy
  • Star Victoria
  • Speaking Up For You (SUFY)
  • TASC Legal and Social Justice Services
  • The Association for Children with Disability (Tas) Inc
  • Victorian Advocacy League for Individuals with Intellectual Disability (VALiD)
  • Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council (VMIAC)


Organisations who have endorsed DANA’s response to the Issues Paper include: