Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission

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The Acting President delivered a paper at a Legalwise seminar on 2 September 2015 in relation to the scope and extent of conciliation and mediation to resolve industrial disputes in WA in the Commission.  Click here to read the paper.

The Minister for Health and the Minister for Commerce sought to institute appeals against decisions to grant limited leave to be heard by a legal practitioner in a substantive application by the Minister for Health and the ANF for an order pursuant to s 42G of the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA) that on registration of an industrial agreement the agreement include provisions specified by the Commission.  The grounds of appeal raised an issue whether the Minister in each appeal had been denied procedural fairness.  The Ministers sought to press their appeals after the industrial agreement was registered by the Commission.  The Full Bench required the Ministers to show cause whether the appeals were moot and whether it was open in light of s 42G(6) to appeal interlocutory orders.  After hearing the parties, the Full Bench dismissed the appeal by the Minister for Health but not the appeal by the Minister for Commerce.

The decision can be read here.

A teacher whose employment was terminated for allegedly assisting Year 3 students in a National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) test and who was alleged to have referred to a student as a ‘little b-tch’ has successfully challenged her dismissal.  The Commission found that the investigation conducted by the Department of Education, the Investigation Report and conclusions were so flawed as to be unable to be relied on.  Also, the Education Assistant who was present in the classroom when the teacher administered the test was unreliable for a number of reasons. 

The investigation was flawed for a number of reasons, including: 

  • The investigators were either unaware or did not take account of the NAPLAN test having a practice section where the behaviour alleged of the Teacher was permissible, and they did not attempt to distinguish the two parts of the test in the investigation.
  • The investigators interviewed a number of Year 3, eight-year-old, students five weeks after the test, during which time they had sat another four tests. They were unable to distinguish between the practice test and the test itself, and between the various tests they had sat. 
  • The investigators asked them questions about tests other than those at which the unacceptable conduct is alleged to have occurred.

The Education Assistant admitted to being unfamiliar with the testing regime and being mistaken about a number of the allegations she had made.  She also acknowledged that when she alleged the teacher had given the students an extra 20 minutes that she was guessing and did not have her watch. 

The decision can be read here.  

A claim by a former employee whose salary exceeded the maximum under the Industrial Relations Act that he had been denied a contractual benefit required the Commission to decide whether the employer, the Central Wheatbelt Division of General Practice (Inc), was a trading corporation.   After hearing evidence and submissions about the Practice’s activities and funding, and applying the principles in Hoffman v Perth Mobile GP Services Ltd [2013] WAIRC 00816 the Commission today found that the Practice is a trading corporation and that as the employee’s salary exceeded the maximum under the Industrial Relations Act, the Commission therefore may not hear and determine his claim.  The Commission held that although the Practice’s activities resulting from grant funding were not trading activities, the Practice’s providing medical services to the public for which it received Medicare payments, and its services for which it charged a fee, are trading activities and the income resulting is significant.

The decision can be read here.

A high school teacher in his 60s was dismissed for failing to maintain professional boundaries with a 16 year old female student. The Commission has dismissed his claim that he was unfairly dismissed.


The Commission found that the teacher had:


  • Exchanged personal email addresses and telephone numbers with the student, and engaged in non-school related communications with her;


  • Had a close personal relationship with the student, including engaging in personal discussions about his own circumstances, being alone with the student in his classroom, allowed her to regularly hug him and reciprocate, going for coffee with her at local coffee shops on a number of occasions, both alone and with others, and had driven her in his car alone a number of times;


  • On one occasion, in his car, when she was particularly upset following an altercation with another person, hugged the student, kissed her on the lips and touched her breast.


Later, when the allegations against him were being investigated, the student lied to protect the teacher and also believed that she was partly responsible because she had not stopped him.


The commission said that the decision of the Department of Education to dismiss the teacher was appropriate in the circumstances, that a teacher who cannot maintain professional boundaries to the extent that occurred here, and does so to the point where the student lies to protect the teacher, demonstrates that the person ought not be a teacher.


The decision can be read here.

Contact Us

Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission
17th Floor
111 St Georges Terrace

Phone : (08) 9420 4444
Facsimile : (08) 9420 4500
Free Call : 1800 624 263

Free Fax :1800 804 987

Email : Registry


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