This page provides media representatives with the key information for reporting on matters before the Commission. Please review the information here before contacting the Commission with your enquiry.
On this page:
- Information for media representatives
- How to refer to the Commission and its Members
- Finding information on our website
- Different matters types before the Commission
- Different ways matters can be dealt with by the Commission
- Attending hearings (including use of recording equipment)
- Use of mobile devices at the Commission
- Data and statistics
- File inspection
- Requests for comment
Please review the information provided on this page before contacting the Commission with your enquiry.
Media enquiries should be directed to:
Media & Communications team
Fair Work Commission
Mobile: 0427 097 628
Information for media representatives
This page provides media representatives with the key information for reporting on matters before the Commission.
Here you will find guidance and information on the processes for obtaining information, some tips for reporting on the Commission and other useful details to help media representatives when covering matters before or relating to the Commission.
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How to refer to the Commission and its Members
All references to the tribunal should either be the Fair Work Commission or the Commission.
- On 1 January 2013, Fair Work Australia was renamed the Fair Work Commission. References to Fair Work Australia, FWA or Fair Work are incorrect.
Members of the Fair Work Commission are statutory appointments and should be referred to by their appropriate title and surname:
- Vice President
- Deputy President or
A full list of Commission Members, their titles and the spelling of their surname can be found on the Commission Members page.
As the Commission is a tribunal, not a court, its matters are conducted in hearing rooms rather than court rooms.
Finding information on our website
Information commonly sought by the media includes:
- the names of Fair Work Commission Members – go to the List of Commission Members
- details of hearings – go to the Hearings schedule for the daily hearing lists
- major cases being heard by the Commission
- statistics – published in Annual reports and quarterly reports
Different matters types before the Commission
These matters remain confidential – that is, the Commission will not publicly acknowledge receipt of an application or provide any information in relation to a matter – unless it fails to settle during the conciliation process and it is sent for a formal hearing.
Only around 4% of unfair dismissal matters lodged with the Commission will go to a formal hearing. In these instances, the matter will be listed on the Commission’s website (on the daily Hearings list) and generally a formal decision will be published.
These matters are confidential, however unless parties request anonymity, the Commission will confirm receipt of an application once listed for a conciliation or conference.
These conferences, when conducted before a Commission Member rather than by telephone conciliation before a trained Commission staff member, will be listed on the Commission’s website (on the daily Hearings list) but are not open to the public and a formal decision will not be published.
Bullying and sexual harassment at work matters
These matters remain confidential – that is, the Commission will not publicly acknowledge receipt of an application or provide any information in relation to a matter.
These matters may be dealt with in several different ways. They may be sent to conciliation, either to a trained Commission staff member or to a Commission Member, or in some instances they may be sent for hearing. If a matter is sent for a formal hearing it will be listed on the Commission’s website, and a formal decision is likely to be published.
The Commission will hear dispute matters in a variety of ways, depending on the type of dispute.
Members may determine (or the relevant award/agreement dispute resolution clause may determine) the best course of action is to conduct a formal hearing and arbitrate the matter, which will result in a decision that is binding on all parties.
In many instances, however, a Member may determine that it is more appropriate to conduct a private conference and attempt to mediate an agreed settlement outcome. If this is the case, the matter will not be open to the public and a formal decision will generally not be published. An order or agreed statement may be published on the Commission’s website in some instances.
Application to terminate industrial action
These matters may be heard either in a formal hearing or a more informal conference.
If heard in a hearing there is likely to be a formal order and decision published. If, however, the parties come to an agreement in a conference, a matter may be withdrawn or adjourned with no formal decision or order published.
These matters may be heard in a formal hearing but more generally may be decided ‘on the papers’.
This means there will be no formal proceedings, however there will be decision published on the Commission’s website.
Many agreements currently being determined by the Commission can be found on the Agreements in progress page of the Commission's website.
Different ways matters can be dealt with by the Commission
These are formal proceedings before a Member of the Commission.
Hearings are generally open to the public, are recorded, and will result in a formal decision or order being published, although there are situations where a decision may be made ex tempore.
If a transcript of a hearing is ordered it will be published on the Commission’s website within 3 to 4 days. If you wish to request access to a transcript, or cannot find it on the website, please contact the Manager Media and Communications for assistance.
Directions hearings or mentions
These sorts of hearings deal with timeframes in which the matter will be dealt with.
This includes the scheduling of further hearings and when written documents must be provided to the Commission.
These tend to be more informal proceedings.
Conferences are conducted with a Member of the Commission either in a hearing room – with the Member generally sitting at the bar table with the parties – or in a dedicated conference room.
Conferences are generally not open to the public, so the door to the hearing room or conference room may be closed.
Members may choose to move from a hearing into a conference during certain matters. If this is the case, any person not a party to the matter will generally be required to leave the room. If in doubt, please ask the Member’s associate what to do.
General protections matters are generally conducted by conference, which means they are not open to the public. There will be no formal decision published.
Generally a formal decision will not be published after a conference, however parties may come to an agreed position, or a settlement.
The majority of unfair dismissal matters, bullying and sexual harassment at work matters and most general protections matters involving dismissal are dealt with by conciliation in the first instance.
In the overwhelming majority of unfair dismissal and general protections involving dismissal cases this is a telephone-based process undertaken by trained staff members of the Commission.
In relation to unfair dismissals, these conciliations are regarded as an administrative process, rather than a legal one, which means the potential settlement options are not restricted by the legislation, and they will not be found on the Commission’s hearings list.
If a matter settles at conciliation (as the overwhelming majority of unfair dismissals do) there will be no formal decision or outcome published.
On the papers
In some circumstances a Commission Member may choose to decide a matter ‘on the papers’. This means there is no requirement to hear evidence or conduct any form of hearing or conference.
Examples of matters where this may occur include agreement approvals or in some instances applications for a protected action ballot order where there is no objection raised by other parties.
A formal decision and/or order will be published on the Commission’s website in relation to these matters.
These may be listed on the hearing list on the website as ‘In Chambers’.
This term is generally used by Commission Members when formally notifying parties of when a decision or order will be made available.
A formal hearing is not held and the decision or order is published on the Commission’s website.
Attending hearings (including use of recording equipment)
The Commission has premises in every capital city. Details on the addresses and contact details for each of these offices can be found on our website.
The hearings schedule provides details of proceedings taking place at the Commission up to 7 days in advance. However, hearings and conferences can sometimes change rooms or times on the day so it is often useful to also check the noticeboard either located in the foyer or in the Registry area on the day of the proceeding.
Hearings are generally open to the public, though if you are unsure it may be useful to check with the Media and Communications Team before attending the Commission. All conferences are usually private and closed to the public.
Media are permitted to use public areas outside hearing rooms for interviews and mobile phone conversations – provided they do not interfere with the work of the Commission.
Cameras may also be used in such areas – provided those being photographed or filmed do not object, and there is no interference with the work of the Commission.
Hearing & conference rooms not in session
Commission hearing and conference rooms not in session may not be used for any media activities unless arrangements have been made through the Manager Media & Communications or the relevant Commission state manager.
Guidelines for the use of recording equipment
Note: The use of television and still cameras and other electronic equipment in Commission proceedings is at the discretion of the Commission Member or Members involved.
Journalists may cover proceedings of the Commission held in public (public hearings), but not private conferences. In general, Commission proceedings are public if the hearing room door is open and private if the door is closed.
A request will need to be made to the Media and Communication’s Team or the relevant Member’s associate in relation to use of any recording device (including cameras) in a hearing room.
Please note the use of recording devices in hearings is only possible in very limited circumstances.
To use television or still cameras or any other electronic equipment in a Commission hearing room you must have the permission of the Member hearing the matter, or in the case of a Full Bench, the presiding Member.
Media are asked to make such requests by contacting the Manager Media & Communications or the associate of the relevant Member.
Journalists may take notes in public proceedings, but sketching and the use of audio recorders (for note-taking or broadcast) is only permitted in hearing rooms with the permission of the Commission Member concerned.
As with requests for camera access, media are asked to seek permission for the use of such equipment through the Manager Media & Communications or the associate of the relevant Member.
Use of mobile devices at the Commission
The following rules relate to the acceptable use of mobile devices during Commission conferences and hearings.
Mobile devices can include mobile phones, smart phones and tablets.
- Mobile devices may be used during Commission conferences and hearings at the discretion of the Member.
- Mobile devices must be on silent in all hearing and conference rooms, as well as general waiting areas.
- The recording of any video or audio files or the taking of photographs during proceedings is strictly prohibited.
The Commission provides free guest wi-fi in all Commission offices, including hearing rooms and conference rooms. Please read the Guest wi-fi service terms & conditions before accessing the service.
Data and statistics
For statistics on the Commission, see the annual reports and the quarterly reports.
Any other reports released by the Commission can also be accessed on the Reports and publications section of the Commission’s website.
For any other enquiries in relation to statistics on the Commission please contact the Media and Communications Team.
To request access to any Commission documents or to inspect files please contact the Media and Communications Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All requests for file access will depend upon the circumstances of the matter and are subject to the presiding Member’s approval.
Requests for comment
Any request for comment should be directed to the Media and Communications Team at email@example.com.