ACHLR Public Lecture – Stress, Trauma and Employers’ Obligations in the Workplace (Professor Ian Freckelton AO KC)

Please join members of the Australian Centre for Health Law Research for a public lecture on Tuesday, 9th April 2024, with Professor Ian Freckelton AO KC presenting. All are welcome to attend.

Event details

Date: Tuesday 9th April 2024
Time: 5.30pm until 7.00pm (AEST time)
Location: Owen J. Wordsworth (OJW) Room, S Block, Level 12, Gardens Point Campus, 2 George Street, Brisbane
Catering: Light refreshments will be available.
Cost: Free
RSVP: Registrations are essential for catering purposes.


Many factors can result in or contribute to adverse psychiatric symptomatology that is experienced by employees. Some such issues arise in the workplace; some outside it. Development or exacerbation of pathology may be foreseeable by reason of the nature of the workplace and the nature of the work such as is likely to arise from direct or indirect exposure to trauma. Other matters may precipitate the onset of pathology or the worsening of it such as excessive burdens of work or bullying. Some employees are especially vulnerable to experience mental illness by reason of prior experiences or their personality. Employers may or not be privy to such information.

This address reviews important recent appellate case law, including Kozarov v State of Victoria (2022) 273 CLR 115, in relation to employers’ responsibilities to provide a healthy and safe workplace, having regard to what is practicable, given the nature of diverse forms of employment that may entail exposure to traumatic incidents or material. Consideration will be given to potential obligations of employers to screen employees for signs of actual or prodromal pathology, monitor them, rotate them through different areas, provide professional assistance in the form of counselling or therapy, and even stand them down. Particular reference will be made to the duties that exist in relation to the employment of emergency services personnel, health care staff and legal practitioners.

Professor Ian Freckelton AO KC

Ian Freckelton AO KCIan Freckelton is a King’s Counsel in full-time practice as a barrister throughout Australia with a mixed appellate, trial and advisory practice. He is listed as a Leading Senior Counsel by Doyle’s Guide and Best Lawyers in Australia. Between 2017 and 2023 he was a judge of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Nauru and has been a member of nine statutory tribunals at State and Federal level. Ian was a member of the Mental Health Tribunal of Victoria for 25 years until 2021 and is a member of the Coronial Council in Victoria. He is also a Professor of Law and a Professorial Fellow in Psychiatry at the University of Melbourne, where he is a Co-Director of the Health and Medical Law postgraduate programme, an Adjunct Professor of Forensic Medicine at Monash University, and an Adjunct Professor of Law in the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at the Queensland University of Technology. He holds a Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from Griffith University. He is an elected life member of the Australian Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law and an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences, the Academy of Social Sciences Australia, the Australian Academy of Law, and the Australasian College of Legal Medicine. Ian is the editor of the Journal of Law and Medicine and the Founding Editor of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. He is the author of more than 700 articles and chapters of books, and the author and editor of over 50 books, the most recent of which are: Expert Evidence: Law Practice, Procedure and Advocacy (7th edn, Thomson Reuters, 2024); Australian Public Health Law (Federation Press, 2023, with Bennett); COVID-19, Law and Regulation (Oxford University Press, 2023, with Bennett and Wolf); Pandemics, Public Health Emergencies and Government Powers (Federation Press, 2021 with Bennett); Tensions and Traumas in Health Law (The Federation Press, 2017, with Petersen), and Scholarly Misconduct (Oxford University Press, 2016). In the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Professor Freckelton was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to the law, and to the legal profession, across fields including health, medicine and technology.”

Getting there

More information on getting to QUT Gardens Point campus is available on the QUT website.

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