My week at the Fair Work Commission

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RMIT JD Students Olivia Dean and Jack Faine
By Jack Faine, RMIT JD student.

Having spent a semester studying Labour Law I was looking forward to the week at the Fair Work Commission. Like other placement opportunities throughout my degree, the FWC placement brought my understanding of the law in to the real world. It coloured between the lines of my knowledge, giving meaning and practical understanding to the legislation I’d spent the last few months trying to get my head around.

The Fair Work Commission is immense. The first day we spent amongst the Registry learning about the the diligence of the team in reviewing the Modern Awards, the team analysing every EBA to assess whether employees are indeed ‘better-off-overall’ under the new agreements, and the team that produce the bench books. The enthusiasm of the young staff working in these teams has definitely sparked my interest in a job at the FWC after graduation.

The rest of our week was spent alongside Commissioners and their Associates hearing all manner of matters – ranging from a mediated general protections matter from a local Fish ‘n’ Chip shop, to a mediation between parties for breach of an EBA clause, to a two day unfair dismissal hearing involving cross-examinations and impressive advocates from both sides. After this we spent a morning with mediators who brought a delicate diplomatic touch to their job assisting negotiations between parties in unfair dismissals and general protections matters.

Both Olivia and I appreciated the time and effort put in by everyone at the FWC. They ensured that we were constantly exposed to different components of the FWC, and we were never short of people to sit down with and run through questions.

The CIJ placement opportunities are fantastic as you are exposed to professionals within different practice areas. I have learnt a great deal through conversations, questions, watching and just generally soaking up the realities of the legal profession.

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