Much of my work is highly delicate and confidential and can involve matters relating to behaviours exhibited by those at the top of an organisation. Clients value my capacity to quickly distil key issues from complex matters. I have built long-term, trusted relationships advising Boards, General Counsel, Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries, HR Directors and senior executives in the private and public sectors across multiple sectors such as education, health, essential services and manufacturing.
I utilise my extensive experience, spanning some 30 years, insights and deep understanding of risk management, particularly in employee relations and culture and managing key stakeholder expectations. I also conduct sensitive workplace investigations into sexual harassment, offering guidance on executive separations and complaints, and assisting with discrimination class actions.
I contributed to Champions of Change Coalition 2020 report; Disrupting the System – preventing and responding to sexual harassment in the workplace. I am also a contributor to Bluenotes ANZ.
I also advise on:
- Workplace transformation precipitated by restructures and achieving positive workplace cultural change.
- Enterprise agreement negotiations and strategy.
- Managing and mitigating the effects of industrial action.
- Resolving sensitive employment and discrimination grievances, including by working with multi-disciplinary teams, particularly where mental health issues are involved, executive separation negotiations and general protections disputes.
- Developing strategy and navigating employment law risks and legislative compliance requirements in the transfer of public assets to the private sector.
- Devising Innovative workplace solutions that take account of regulatory and policy frameworks and meet business imperatives.
- Advising departments and agencies on drafting amendments to employment legislation and responding to independent reports of regulators.
I also have a significant understanding of employment and professional conduct regulatory frameworks, working with regulators to successfully discharge their statutory duties and, in doing so, protect the public. In 2019 I obtained my Master of Applied Positive Psychology.
- I worked on the team that successfully defended a high-profile adverse action claim, initially before the Federal Court and again on appeal to the Full Court. This case clarified the law in respect of adverse action applications concerning employment complaints under section 341 of the Fair Work Act. Significantly, costs of the appeal and parts of the original trial were ordered against the applicant in what is generally a 'no costs' jurisdiction.
- Advising the State of Victoria on the industrial and employment law strategy and its practical execution for the long-term lease of the Port of Melbourne to the private sector and the commercialisation of Land Use Victoria.
- Advising on the investigation into sexual harassment allegations concerning a former Lord Mayor of Melbourne.
- Advising the Department of Health and Human Services on employment issues to assist the State in managing its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- I have been independently recognised for many years by Best Lawyers in the areas of Employee Benefits (including as Lawyer of the Year Melbourne for FY2017), Labour and Employment, Government and Education (including as Lawyer of the Year Melbourne for FY21). I am also recognised by Chambers Global in Employment, which has noted client feedback such as: 'Amanda is an absolute delight to deal with and offers incredible responsiveness.' 'Amanda Watt's broad range of skills includes noted expertise on advising clients on organisational change issues.' 'One client highlights her expertise in employment law, as well as her "high degree of emotional intelligence" and ability to "engage in frank and fearless conversation". I am also recognised as a ‘leading individual’ in Employment Law by Legal 500 Asia Pacific. Asialaw leading lawyers and Women in Business Law. In 2019 I was a finalist for the Lawyers Weekly Award for Wellbeing Advocate of the Year.
- In addition to leading the Melbourne Workplace team, I served on the MinterEllison board between July 2015 and July 2021. As Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee, I led the governance transformation of how our D&I is embedded in our culture.