I am pleased to provide this report for the 2018–19 financial year.
Overall, applications to the Tribunal have been stable in the past year, with a 5 per cent increase in the number of hearings and conferences held across Australia.
In December 2018 the Commission welcomed six new Members to the Tribunal.
We met all our performance measures as detailed in the Commission’s annual performance statements in this report. Almost 80 per cent of unfair dismissal applications that were conciliated by staff were resolved by the employee and employer reaching agreement.
At the same time, managing within our available resources is challenging, and we ran a small funded deficit of $1.519 million excluding depreciation and amortisation in 2018–19.
While recent years saw a reduction in the Commission’s timeliness in approving enterprise agreements, I am pleased to report that the turnaround time significantly improved during the second half of the reporting period, from a median of 76 days to a median of 35 days. This includes all agreements approved: ranging from fully compliant applications at lodgment that can be dealt with quickly to agreements that require multiple undertakings to be approved or are contested. There is further discussion on how the Commission has achieved this significant improvement in the Enterprise agreements section of this report.
In the year ahead, we will continue to work with our stakeholders to assist parties lodge compliant agreements and approval applications. This is the most sustainable way to further improve our timeliness performance.
We will also launch a new case management system (initially handling new unfair dismissal applications) that will allow applicants and their representatives to lodge online and view previously lodged applications. We will continue to implement our 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. Under the plan, we are using behavioural insights to improve service delivery, expanding access to free legal advice, and reviewing our information materials so that employees and employers are provided with the information they want, at the time they need it, in plain language and in the most useful form.
I express my appreciation to Members and our staff for their dedication and commitment to the important work of the Commission and to our ongoing efforts to improve the services we provide the Australian community through listening to our users.