Workplace conflict resolution in Australia: The dominance of the public dispute resolution framework and the limited role of ADR

Anthony Forsyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article assesses the effectiveness of the legal and institutional framework for workplace conflict resolution in Australia. Given the minimal role played by alternative dispute resolution (ADR) providers historically and presently, the article focuses on the role of Fair Work Australia (FWA) as the pivotal conflict resolution body under the Labor Government s Fair Work system. FWA s origins, functions, powers and processes under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) are closely analysed, along with its various dispute resolution roles. These arrangements carry on a long Australian tradition of resolving employment and workplace disputes through public agencies. The article then considers the extent to which parties have been utilising various forms of ADR, the failed experiment with ADR under the former (Coalition) Government s Work Choices laws and the scope that remains for the use of ADR under the Fair Work Act. A brief comment is made upon the lack of attention that has been given to dispute prevention in Australia. This article concludes that, despite this gap, the Australian scheme of workplace conflict resolution has many positive features. It compares favourably internationally on a range of measures of effective dispute resolution systems, including accessibility, efficiency, expertise, impartiality, fairness, and its contribution to social change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476 - 494
Number of pages19
JournalThe International Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this