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Fair Work Commission confirms unfair dismissal of Dr Colson

11 November 2013

The Fair Work Commission today endorsed the findings of the Full Bench that Dr Colson was unfairly dismissed. The awarding of compensation is vindication of Dr Colson’s fight against his dismissal by Barwon Health.

Dr Colson has built a strong reputation as a highly skilled specialist anaesthetist during his 14 years with Barwon Health, and his absence from Barwon Health is a detriment to the Geelong community.

  • On 20 May 2012, Barwon Health summarily dismissed Dr Colson, alleging serious misconduct.
  • On 11 February 2013, the Fair Work Commission ordered the reinstatement of Dr Colson, finding Barwon Health’s termination decision unfair and in breach of the Fair Work Act 2009. Barwon Health appealed that decision.
  • On 15 July 2013, an Appeal Full Bench decided that while the original decision contained “significant errors of fact” regarding the question of valid reason, the termination remained in breach of the Fair Work Act, as it was “harsh…and hence…Dr Colson was unfairly dismissed within the meaning of [the Act"[1].
  • On 11 November 2013, the Fair Work Commission determined that Barwon Health is to pay Dr Colson compensation for his unfair dismissal.


Throughout this dispute, Dr Colson has received ongoing support from AMA Victoria and the Barwon Health Senior Medical Staff. On 27 June 2012, Barwon Health Senior Medical Staff Group Executive convened a meeting that culminated in the passing of a motion expressing “full confidence” in Dr Colson, and “no confidence” in Barwon Health’s handling of the issues. The Senior Medical Staff called for Dr Colson’s reinstatement.

On 15 August 2013, a second Senior Medical Staff meeting was convened and on this occasion a motion was passed expressing “grave concern” about how Barwon Health had handled the matter, and asked that “considerable effort...be put into improving the relations between hospital administration and Senior Medical Staff”.

The awarding of compensation demonstrates that Dr Colson was unfairly dismissed. However AMA Victoria is disappointed that the community of Geelong has lost Dr Colson’s high level clinical skills.

Barwon Health management must now prove to medical staff that they have learned from their mistake.

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[1] FWCFB 4515. 15 July 2013 (para 152).


Media contact

Felicity Ryan

Media & Public Affairs
Australian Medical Association Victoria
Telephone: (03) 9280 8753
Mobile: 0437 450 506
Email: felicityr@amavic.com.au

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