Australia has had a national workplace relations tribunal for over a century. It is one of our key national institutions. Over time the tribunal, currently known as the Fair Work Commission, has undergone many changes in jurisdiction, name, functions and structure, and has made many decisions that have affected the lives of working Australians and their employers. We recognise the importance of promoting public understanding of the role of the tribunal and of capturing and preserving this record for display and research.

Sir Richard Kirby Archives

Launched in October 2002, the Sir Richard Kirby Archives was established as a means of preserving the history of Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal.

During the reporting period the Honourable Professor Joseph Isaac AO donated a significant collection of personal papers to the Sir Richard Kirby Archives. Professor Isaac served as Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission from 1973 to 1987. His personal papers are a rich and generous contribution to our archive. They include speeches, letters, lecture notes, journal articles and newspaper clippings.

An important part of the Sir Richard Kirby archives is the Oral History Program, a collection of interviews with past Members and senior staff of the Commission. The purpose of the program is to capture information and experiences that might not appear in formal documents and would otherwise be lost.

During the reporting year six new oral history films were completed and added to the archive: Senior Deputy President Kaufman; Commissioner Merriman; Commissioner Harrison; Senior Deputy President Marsh; Senior Deputy President Cartright and Commissioner Jones.

Waltzing Matilda and the Sunshine Harvester Factory

The Waltzing Matilda and the Sunshine Harvester Factory website, book and film are a significant resource for students and others with an interest in the history of the Australian industrial relations system. They were developed by Deputy President Hamilton. The website received almost 54 000 visits in the reporting year and has now had 237 809 visits since its launch in February 2011. During the reporting period the book was downloaded from the iBooks store 471 times and a number of printed copies of the book were also sold.