Speeches

The Fair Work Ombudsman and senior staff deliver speeches at leading industrial relations conferences and events. Find transcripts of speeches below.

2021

11 November 2021 – Address to Australian Labour Law Association Virtual Conference

Speaking at the Australian Labour Law Association Virtual Conference, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker discussed the Australian workplace regulator’s regulatory response to vulnerable workers.

Supporting vulnerable workers is an enduring priority for the Fair Work Ombudsman. In her speech, Ms Parker addressed:

  • how the agency prioritises and supports vulnerable workers, while helping employers build a culture of compliance, particularly in high risk sectors
  • use of the Protecting Vulnerable Workers provisions in the Fair Work Act, and
  • the regulators’ advice, education, tools and resources to support vulnerable workers.

Ms Parker highlighted that the Fair Work Ombudsman has secured more than $1.2 million in penalties related to contraventions under the Protecting Vulnerable Workers provisions which were introduced in 2017.

Address to the Australian Labour Law Association (ALLA) Conference 

15 October 2021 – Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association Virtual Conference

In her address to the Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association Virtual Conference, Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker, discussed how the regulator has responded to emerging workplace issues and supported employees and employers through the pandemic.

During the pandemic, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s approach has been to:

  • prioritise assistance to vulnerable workers;
  • provide and promote the Fair Work Ombudsman’s education, advice, tools and resources;
  • support small businesses and those sectors hardest hit by COVID-19; and
  • monitor and enforce compliance.

Ms Parker highlighted that the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered over $148 million for over 69,700 employees in the 2020-21 financial year, which was a 20 per cent increase on our record recoveries in 2019-20, and nearly five times the recoveries achieved in 2017-18.

Address to the Australian Labour and Employment Relations Association virtual conference .

28 September 2021 – Webinar with Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA)

In this webinar, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker discusses with TEQSA Chief Commissioner Peter Coaldrake the importance of compliant workplace practices in the Australian higher education sector. Ms Parker highlights issues of concern for the sector and expectations regarding ongoing compliance, monitoring and practices for rectifying underpayments to staff.

Watch the webinar now:

9 July 2021 – Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) Roundtable Meeting

In her address to the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker announced the regulator’s compliance and enforcement priorities for 2021-22.

In 2021-22, the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) main priority remains supporting workplaces as they recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

The FWO will retain the following priorities, where there is still work to be done:

  • Fast food, restaurants and cafes
  • Horticulture
  • Sham contracting
  • Large corporate underpayments
  • Franchise arrangements.

Ms Parker also confirmed the regulator’s enduring commitment to prioritising small business employers and employees, and vulnerable workers.

The Contract cleaning industry has been identified as a new priority due to a history of non-compliance, risks of exploitation, and an expected increase in demand for cleaning services as a result of new rules about COVID-19-safe cleaning practises.

Ms Parker noted that the priorities for the upcoming year are set against the background of the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 in many sectors and regions. Ms Parker also discussed the FWO’s enforcement posture and the free tools and resources available to support small businesses understand and comply with their workplace obligations.

Speech to Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) Roundtable Meeting 

Media release: FWO announces 2021-22 priorities

2019

17 October 2019 – Australian Human Resource Institute's New South Wales Employee Relations / Industrial Relations Network Forum

In her speech, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker highlighted the integral role that Human Resource professionals play in ensuring the protection of workers, especially in dealing with ineffective governance - a common catalyst for non-compliance.

Reflecting on the increase in large organisations self-disclosing non-compliance to the Agency, the Fair Work Ombudsman stressed her concern that some companies are not showing the same diligence towards compliance with workplace laws as they do to making a profit.

She emphasised the importance of enforceable undertakings as a compliance tool, highlighting their effectiveness in rectifying past breaches and changing future behaviour, and reiterated that litigation is always an option for companies that do not comply with the terms of their undertaking.

Address to the Australian Human Resource Institute's New South Wales Employee Relations / Industrial Relations Network Forum .

3 June 2019 – Australian Industry Group PIR Conference

In her speech, Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker announced the regulator’s 2019-20 priorities and spoke about its strong approach to non-compliance.

In 2019-20, the FWO’s priority industries and issues are:

  • Fast food, restaurants and cafes
  • Horticulture and the harvest trail
  • Supply chain risks
  • Franchisors
  • Sham contracting.

In addition to its ongoing focus on vulnerable workers, these priorities will direct the agency’s compliance work and enforcement outcomes, and will be targeted in an effort to create sustainable behavioural change. Every year, the Fair Work Ombudsman will determine its priorities and align them with its program of proactive compliance and enforcement.

Ms Parker also outlined a stronger approach for the FWO to its use of enforcement tools, with a bigger role for compliance notices to address underpayment contraventions, and enforceable undertakings for businesses that self-report non-compliant behaviour.

You can read the full speech in the address to Australian Industry Group PIR Conference .

For speeches before 2019, see our Archived speeches page.

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