I am pleased to provide this review of the Fair Work Commission for the 2017–18 financial year.
Overall, applications to the tribunal have been reasonably stable in the past year, with a 5 per cent reduction in lodgments overall.
We have operated within the resources provided by government, and essentially achieved a balanced budget, reporting a small funded surplus of $85,000 for the financial year.
We have been able to conduct conciliations in unfair dismissal cases quicker than in the previous year and, with one exception, meet our other performance measures as detailed in the Commission’s annual performance statements in this report. A major challenge in the reporting period has been the increase in the number of applications for approval of enterprise agreements that did not meet the statutory requirements when lodged. This has had a significantly deleterious impact on the timeliness of the finalisation of such applications. A significant priority in the year ahead will be to work with parties to help them lodge compliant applications, so that applications can be dealt with more quickly.
In the year ahead, we will continue to develop our new case management system, eCase, to deliver further integration with the Commission’s systems and provide additional functionality. We will implement our new plan to improve access and reduce complexity for our users, entitled What’s Next, which includes a number of reforms that provide greater support for small business and individual users, use behavioural insights to improve service delivery, expand access to free legal advice, and work with users to produce summaries of modern awards and improve processing times for applications to approve enterprise agreements.
I express my appreciation to Members and our staff, for their dedication and commitment to the important work of the Commission.