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Hands-on learning for Business School students

05 Jul 2013

A group of third year Business School students has experienced first-hand how the Fair Work Commission operates. The students, who are undertaking the Industrial Relations and Human Resource Management major, spent the day at the Commission, learning how the skills and knowledge they are acquiring in the classroom are put into practice.

The day was hosted by Deputy President of the Fair Work Commission, Anna Booth, who guided the students through a typical day in the nation's workplace relations tribunal, including exposing them to how arbitration occurs, discussing how enterprise bargaining agreements are negotiated and looking at situations when things go wrong, for example in relation to unfair dismissal proceedings.

"The idea behind the visit to the Fair Work Commission was to expose the people who will one day take on advocacy roles as a part of their employment relations roles to the procedures employed in the national tribunal on a day-to-day basis," said Associate Professor Rae Cooper, from the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies. "Experiential learning like this is the most effective way to build students' understanding of how the real world works."

"Lecturers can spend hours and hours discussing the mechanics of the Australian industrial relations system," Associate Professor Cooper continued, "but to see it all happening in person, in the courtroom, is a thousand times better. Having access to a practitioner of the calibre of Deputy President Booth is a really wonderful experience for the students."

Allowing the students to visit is part of an agenda of the Fair Work Commission President, Iain Ross, who has signalled a desire to open up the working of the tribunal to Australians.

The students were encouraged to spend time observing how the Commission proceedings unfold, with particular emphasis placed on helping them to develop their skills in bargaining and negotiation.

"It's very exciting for the students to be able to see how our laws play out in the working of the Commission," Associate Professor Cooper concluded. "It is also really gratifying that the Business School is in a position to be able to offer experiential learning experiences like this to our students."