Speeches

Speeches by the Fair Work Ombudsman and senior staff

We deliver speeches at leading industrial relations conferences and events.

Find transcripts of speeches below.

2017

14 September 2017 - Address to 2017 Asia Pacific Fuel Industry Forum

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James discusses compliance activities in the fuel retailing industry. Drawing on these experiences, Natalie notes the recent passage of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 through both houses of Parliament, and considers how the new laws will assist to address the exploitation of vulnerable workers across Australia. Natalie challenges the audience to work together with the Fair Work Ombudsman to build an industry-wide culture of compliance.

13 July 2017 - Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI) - Supporting Compliance in Far North Queensland

In her speech, Natalie James talks about the role of advisers in helping businesses to do the right thing. Natalie discusses the results of Fair Work Ombudsman’s Far North Queensland campaign and the agency’s current approach to accessorial liability, highlighting cases involving Human Resources advisers. Natalie encourages advisers to work together with their businesses and the Fair Work Ombudsman to build a culture of compliance.

19 May 2017 - Future Work: Industrial Relations Society of New South Wales Annual Convention

In her speech, Natalie James explores the impact platform technologies are having on the employment landscape. Natalie discusses some of the questions they raise for workplace practitioners and the role of the Fair Work Ombudsman, drawing on lessons learned from the pizza sector.

1 May 2017 - Australian Industry Group - 2017 Annual National Policy-Influence-Reform Conference 

In her speech, Natalie James discusses the ongoing challenge of worker exploitation. Natalie talks about the reasons for the introduction of the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers Bill) 2017 and how the Bill would help the FWO to stamp out the exploitation of vulnerable workers. She emphasises the Fair Work Ombudsman's proportionate and educative approach to enforcing Australia's workplace laws and how this approach would continue if the Bill is passed. 

10 March 2017 - Lander and Rogers Seminar Presentation

In her speech, Natalie James discusses the need for businesses and advisors to consider their moral and legal responsibilities with respect to their supply chains and networks. Otherwise your company and advisors are at risk of reputational damage and held accountable as an accessory under the Fair Work Act 2009.

She talks about the importance of having all your records and systems updated and in order, to ensure you know your workers are being paid correctly and confident that your business is doing the right thing. 

2016

23 November 2016 -  Recruitment and Consulting Services of Australia Acumen Speaker Series

In her speech, Natalie James discusses the challenges of an ever changing labour market and triangular work arrangements, such as ‘on-hire’ or outsourcing. She talks about the importance of helping those in the market for labour to understand their obligations and how to work together to make ethical and lawful choices.

18 November 2016 – Migration Institute of Australia National Conference 2016

In her speech, Natalie James discusses how Migration Agents have an interest in maintaining Australia’s reputation as a good place to work. She talks about how Migration Agents can assist the FWO with building a culture of compliance within Australian workplaces.

9 November 2016 - Presentation to the Australian Hotels Association NSW Legal and Industrial Conference 2016

In her speech, Natalie James discusses how by showing leadership in your industry and taking responsibility for your role in compliance, you can avoid finding yourself liable for breaches of workplace laws. She talks about the results of the FWO’s Housekeeping Inquiry, including the Oaks and Housekeepers Pty Ltd enforceable undertakings, and ways to work with the FWO to promote compliance, such as the Cleaning Accountability Framework, proactive compliance partnerships and sharing industry knowledge.

4 November 2016 - Presentation to the Australian Labour Law Association National Conference 2016

In their speech, Natalie James and Chief Counsel of the Fair Work Ombudsman, Janine Webster, explore the Fair Work Ombudsman's role in the development of workplace law. They particularly focus on the Fair Work Ombudsman's evolving use of accessorial liability and discuss a number of key cases in this space, including Yogurberry where, for the first time, we have secured penalties against a master franchisor for being an accessory to the exploitative practices of one of its associated companies.

28 October 2016 - Keynote presentation at the Law Institute of Victoria Workplace Relations Conference 2016

In her speech, Natalie James explores the scope of the advice provided by employment law practitioners in the context of an active regulator and in an environment where stories of worker exploitation are of high interest across the range of media. Natalie discusses the way the FWO works in responding to requests for assistance, to give legal practitioners the insight they need to appropriately advise their clients about the FWO’s current work and practices.

10 October 2016 - Keynote Panel Session at the National Franchise Convention 2016 

Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James explores the ideas of responsibility, the law and community expectations, and how the franchise sector can stay ahead of the curve and ensure they are meeting all three.

20 September 2016 - Address to the Workplace Relations Committee of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

In her speech, Chief Counsel of the Fair Work Ombudsman, Janine Webster, discusses how the Fair Work Ombudsman can build a better Australia for business by working together with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to achieve common interests. She explains why the Fair Work Ombudsman got involved in the 4 Yearly Modern Award Review process, our Supply Chain Strategy and how accessories such as managers, directors and others can now be liable for underpayment, not just employers. She invites the employer organisations to advise businesses about these and other developments and to work with them to ensure they avoid unnecessary risks.

1 September 2016 - Address to the Franchise Council of Australia' New South Wales Luncheon

In his speech, Executive Director of Dispute Resolution and Compliance, Steve Ronson, discusses the Fair Work Ombudsman's commitment to identifying and addressing the drivers of non-compliance that arise from a franchise's operating model. 

27 July 2016 - AHRI Employee Relations / Industrial Relations Network NSW forum

In her speech, Natalie James talks about the difficulties faced by business advisers in balancing organisational objectives with compliance risks. Natalie talks about the Fair Work Ombudsman’s current approach to accessorial liability and highlights recent cases that show how the agency is using the existing framework, before turning her attention to proposed reforms. Natalie encourages advisers to work together with their businesses, professional organisations and the Fair Work Ombudsman to build a culture of compliance. 

7 July 2016 - Council of Small Business Australia National Small Business Summit

In her speech, Natalie James states that most employers want to do the right thing – sometimes they just need a little help to get there. She talks about how the Fair Work Ombudsman's resources and programs, including the Early Intervention Program, are structured around providing our customers with the right advice, at the right time, and implores business and advisers to work together with us to make compliance easier. 

27 May 2016 - Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association National Conference

In her speech, Natalie James talks about the work we are doing to help build a culture of compliance in Australia’s labour supply chains. Natalie states that ‘compliance with workplace laws is everyone’s business’ and launches our new Anonymous Report tool, available on our website, to enable members of the community to anonymously alert us to potential non-compliance with workplace laws. 

2 May 2016 - Australian Industry Group PIR Conference

In her speech, Natalie James discusses the different types of compliance posture that the FWO encounters among businesses, which she dubs ‘the good,’ ‘the bad’ and ‘the ugly’, and provides businesses with some practical tips to ensure that they remain among ‘the good’.

2015

10 November 2015 - Small Business Forum

The Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James recently spoke at the 2015 Small Business Forum about the key role intermediaries play in assisting small business.

23 June 2015 - Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce SME Executive Boardroom Lunch

In her speech, Natalie James talks about leadership in the workplace and looking 'above the line'.

5 May 2015 - AiG Personnel and Industrial Relations (PIR) Conference

In her speech, Fair Work Ombudsman's Chief Counsel Janine Webster discusses why Australian business should take notice of supply chains.

2014

12 November 2014 - Australian Hotels Association of NSW Legal and Industrial Conference

In her speech, Natalie James asks how can we build a culture of compliance with workplace laws in the hospitality industry?

29 August 2014 - Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association National Conference

In her speech, Natalie James outlines the Fair Work Ombudsman's approach to addressing the exploitation of vulnerable workers and how the use of procurement and outsourcing arrangements are a legitimate choice for business, but can lead to issues around responsibility.

8 August 2014 - National Small Business Summit

In her speech, Natalie James reassures the small business community of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s commitment to helping employers understand and comply with workplace laws. 

2 April 2014 - National HR Summit

In her speech, Natalie James shares her insights as the Fair Work Ombudsman and explains our role in promoting harmonious, productive and cooperative workplaces.

2013

28 November 2013 - Australian Industry Group National Employment Conference

In her speech, Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James details our commitment to being an engaged and balanced regulator and outlines initiatives for supporting small business operators.

6 May 2013 - National PIR Group Conference

In his speech, Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Michael Campbell shared some insights of the Fair Work Ombudsman’s current compliance and enforcement approach.

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