The Australasian Association of Workplace Investigators (AAWI) was launched in Melbourne last night, and is set to provide numerous opportunities for Australian legal practitioners.
The AAWI is the Australasian chapter of the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI). The AWI was established in the US in 2009 by a group of Californian lawyers, before branching out to Canada soon after.
Justitia's Sarah Rey and Victorian bar’s Karen Streckfuss have been declared co-convenors of the AAWI and, together with a team of dedicated committee members from across Australia, have been working with the US association to establish the “first organisation of its kind representing workplace investigations in Australia”.
According to Ms Rey, the AAWI will promote best practice with regard to workplace investigations, establishing support circles of practitioners throughout Australia, while offering further education through conferences and other learning opportunities.
“There will be two primary opportunities [for legal professionals]. Firstly, AAWI circles will be established in all capital cities and wherever else the need is for them to be set up. They may be large or small groups led by a convenor. The convenor’s role will be to regularly bring their group together to discuss workplace investigation challenges and to provide a support and mentoring network,” she said.
“Secondly, there will be a conference next year with a focus entirely on workplace investigation practices and theory. Only in recent years have courses been introduced at universities in relation to workplace investigation theory and practice.
“There are also certificate training courses in Australia. However, we think there is a need for a conference platform to bring experts together, whether from the membership, overseas or academia, to present on relevant subjects, as well as providing a networking opportunity to members. The conference program will also be informed by our colleagues’ knowledge and experience in the US and the AWI.”
Ms Rey said the organisation anticipates that the majority of its members will be Australian lawyers.
“We think the majority of our membership will be lawyers, of whom not all will have practising certificates. However, we encourage all non-lawyers conducting investigations to also become members and contribute,” she said.
“The intention is to create an inclusive and collegial association where all workplace investigators can share their knowledge and experiences.”
Ms Rey said the feedback on the new organisation has been positive thus far.
“The response from practitioners has been overwhelmingly positive ... We have received support from organisations, such as Resolution Institute, law societies and barrister associations, with related interests due to their members also conducting workplace investigations,” she said.