Transparency and accountability are essential to public faith in our institutions and legal system. That is why today we are launching the Kaldor Centre Data Lab

Statistics cannot tell us everything. But they can help to build a much-needed evidence base for improving decision-making in our courts and tribunals, ensuring fairness for all – and in particular for people seeking protection, where the stakes are so high.

This is a first in Australia, and just the beginning for us. Kaldor Centre Deputy Director Daniel Ghezelbash is leading a new research stream that uses data to examine decision-making in Australia’s refugee legal system.

There is an original data set of more than 6,700 applications for judicial review in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. There is similar data, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, concerning 18,613 protection visa applications made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) and 10,157 decisions by the Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA).

Data cannot tell us the whole story, nor the only story, but data can reveal trends that otherwise might go unnoticed. 

Already the Kaldor team’s innovative work has revealed patterns in the potentially life-or-death outcomes for people seeking protection in Australia’s refugee system. For instance, their success varies greatly depending on the specific tribunal member or judge who hears their case, and on whether they have a lawyer.

Our Data Lab will grow and link to others around the world. And we’re making the Australian data available for all. 

You can listen to Ghezelbash discuss the project with ABC Radio National’s The Law Report, or dive in and explore the Kaldor Centre Data Lab.