Our history

Australia has had a national workplace relations tribunal for more than a century and it is one of the country's oldest key institutions. Over time the tribunal, currently known as the Fair Work Commission, has undergone many changes in jurisdiction, name, functions and structure. Throughout its history, the Commission has made many decisions that have affected the lives of working Australians and their employers. The Commission recognises the importance of promoting public understanding of the role of the tribunal and of capturing and preserving its history for display and research.

Sir Richard Kirby Archives

Launched in October 2002, the Sir Richard Kirby Archives were established to preserve the history of Australia's national workplace relations tribunal.

During the reporting period the Honourable Professor Joseph Isaac AO continued to donate 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 the archives. They include speeches, letters, lecture notes, journal articles and newspaper clippings. Further information about the archives can be found at Sir Richard Kirby Archives.

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 program captures information and experiences that might not appear in formal documents and would otherwise be lost.

During the reporting year a new oral history film was completed and added to the archive: The Hon. Keith Jackson Hancock, AO, Deputy President 1987–92, Senior Deputy President 1992–97.

Waltzing Matilda and the Sunshine Harvester Factory

Deputy President Hamilton has developed the Waltzing Matilda and the Sunshine Harvester Factory website content, book and film as a significant resource for students and others with an interest in the history of the Australian industrial relations system.

The website pages received just over 7500 visits (10,245 page views) in the reporting period.

During 2014–15 the book was downloaded from the iBooks store 255 times and a number of printed copies of the book were also sold.

The website content can be found at Waltzing Matilda and the Sunshine Harvester Factory.