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Self Paced Lesson - Migration - Legal Citation - Subject Guide

3: Acts

Citations for Australian Acts of Parliament are made up of the following key components (rule 3.1):

Short title + year + (jurisdiction) + pinpoint reference.

Short Title

The short title of an Act is to be used in all Act citations except in cases where the Act does not contain a short title (rule 3.1.1).
Short tiles can be identified in section one of Commonwealth and Western Australian Acts.
The short title is to be in italics (rules 3.1.1 and 1.8.2)


The year in which the Act was originally passed should appear in italics following the title of the Act (rule 3.1.2).
Generally, a principal Act rather than an amending Act should be cited (rule 3.1.2), but there are some exceptions to this that are detailed in rule 3.8.


An abbreviated form of the jurisdiction in which the Act was passed should appear in parentheses (round brackets) following the year.
The jurisdiction should not be italicised (rule 3.1.3).

The following abbreviations should be used for Australian jurisdictions:

Jurisdiction Abbreviation
Commonwealth Cth
Australian Capital Territory ACT
New South Wales NSW
Northern Territory NT
Queensland Qld
South Australia SA
Tasmania Tas
Victoria Vic
Western Australia WA


It is important that capitalisation is consistent throughout a document, particular when citing an Act of Parliament (rule 1.7).
Words should only be capitalised where they:

  • appear at the beginning of a sentence, title or heading; or
  • are proper nouns (rule 1.7)

In the titles of all cited materials and in all headings, the first letter of the following should be capitalised:

  • the first word in a title or heading (and a subtitle or subheading); and
  • all other words in the title except:
    • articles (such as 'the', 'a', 'an')
    • conjunctions (such as 'and', 'but')
    • prepositions (such as 'on', 'with', 'before') (rule 1.7)

Titles of legislation should appear as they do in the statute, subject to what is set out above and in rule 1.7 which sets out some general capitalisation rules for specific words.


All case names, statute titles, treaty titles and titles of other materials that the AGLC requires to be in italics should be in italics in both the text and footnotes (regardless of whether or not a full citation is included) and in quotes (rule 1.8.2, see also 3.1.1).


Therefore when you are citing an act, it should be as follows:

Short title + year + (jurisdiction) + pinpoint reference.

Pinpoint References

When you make reference to a particular section of an Act, you are making a pinpoint reference.
It is important to understand how the rules for pinpoint references in legislation apply.

A pinpoint reference is where you point directly to a particular part of a document to support your argument.
In the case of legislation, a pinpoint reference is where you point directly to the section or subsection of an Act that you are relying upon.

Abbreviations for Parts of Acts

When you are pinpointing a reference to an Act in a document, you use an abbreviation which represents what part of the Act you are referring to, and a number, separated by a space.

You should always use abbreviated pinpoint references in the text and in citations, except where the pinpoint begins a sentence.
The table below shows the abbreviations for all the parts of legislative materials that you may come across (rule 3.1.4).

Designation   Abbreviation    Plural    Abbreviation   
Appendix    app    Appendices apps
Article art Articles arts
Chapter ch    Chapters    chs
Clause   cl    Clauses cls
Division div Divisions divs
Paragraph para Paragraphs paras
Part    pt Parts pts
Schedule    sch Schedules schs
Section s Sections ss
Sub-clause sub-cl Sub-clauses sub-cls
Subdivision sub-div Subdivisions sub-divs
Sub-paragraph sub-para Sub-paragraphs sub-paras
Subsection    sub-s Subsections sub-ss

If you are referring to a visa class:
          Schedule 1, 1121 Labour Agreement (Migrant) (Class AU)

If you are referring to a visa subclass:
          Schedule 2, Subclass 120 Labour Agreement Visa

If you are referring to a specific “clause” or subclause within a schedule:
          cl.679.224 of Schedule 2 to the Migration Regulations 1994
          Subclause 8202(3)(a)

In text reference examples



Section 501 of the Migration Act 1998 (Cth) enables the Minister to refuse or cancel a visa if...

  • use Section or Subsection to begin a sentence - not an 's'
  • when referring to a subsection as well as the section: s 278(3)
  • when referring to a subsection alone:  sub-s (3)



Section 504(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) provides that....



Numbered or lettered subsections should appear in parentheses (round brackets) immediately following the section number.

When you are referencing a section and a subsection, a paragraph and a sub-paragraph, etc, the abbreviation that corresponds to the highest ‘level’ of the section or paragraph etc in the pinpoint should be used (for example, ‘s 31(1)’, not ‘sub-s 31(1)’). (AGLC 3.1.4)

The section number and subsection number should not be separated by a space (for example, ‘s 3(a)’, not ‘s 3 (a)’)  (AGLC rule 3.1.4).

In text example

A visa application may also be invalid under ss 46(1A)(a)–(d) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth).


The following abbreviation should be used if you refer to a schedule in a document:

Schedule              sch

The unabbreviated 'Schedule' should be used at the beginning of a sentence.


Visa Classes

Reference to a visa class:

Schedule 1, 1123 Norfolk Island Permanent Resident (Residence) (Class AW)

Reference to a visa subclass:

Schedule 2, Subclass 204 Woman at Risk

Schedule 2, Subclass 120 Labour Agreement Visa

Specific Clauses

Based on the AGLC, when you are referring to a specific “clause” or sub-clause within a schedule the correct citation is:

As stated in cl 679.224 of sch 2 to the Migration Regulations 1994...


Migration Regulation 1994 (Cth) sch 2 cl 679.224


Subclause 8202(3)(a)