This information resource is for private sector employees in Western Australia. It is general information only and not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. By using the information on this page, you agree to our full disclaimer.

There are two systems of employment law in Western Australia: a state system and a national system. While this information resource is suitable for both state system employees and national system employees, it will help you to know which system of employment law you are covered by. If you are unsure, please see our publication: “Q&A: State or national for WA employees”.

Quick Summary

Usually when you make a legal claim, it will not go to court/commission straight away. You will likely have a conciliation conference scheduled first.

A conciliation is a meeting with the other party and a person who works for the court or commission (they are known as the conciliator). A conciliation is not about deciding who is right or wrong, so you do not have to prepare evidence or witnesses. Instead, the conciliation is an opportunity for you and the other party to tell each side of the story and try to come to a resolution so that you do not have to go to court/a formal hearing at a commission.

A conciliation may sometimes be called a “pre-trial conference”.

The conciliation is confidential and without prejudice. Confidential means that it will be held in private, and the details are not available to the public (although a schedule of what conciliations are happening can be publicly available). Without prejudice means that any offers made, or anything said during the conciliation cannot be used/relied on in later hearings/court.


This Q&A provides information on conciliation conferences, or other conferences run in a similar way. It may be helpful if you have made a legal claim, have an upcoming conciliation, and are seeking information on what happens at a conciliation conference and how you can prepare for this.

A conciliation conference, or conference of this nature, will be the first step in most claims that are made to a court or commission (although sometimes conciliation is optional), including:

  • unfair dismissal claims in the Fair Work Commission or Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission;
  • unlawful termination claims in the Fair Work Commission;
  • general protections claims in the Fair Work Commission;
  • protection of employee rights claims in the Industrial Magistrates Court;
  • applications for a stop bullying order in the Fair Work Commission;
  • discrimination claims in the Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission; or
  • denial of contractual benefits claims in the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission;
  • breach of contract claims in the Magistrates Court. For a claim in the Magistrates Court, a pre-trial conference will be held as an initial step after you have made a claim where the dispute relates to your employment. This is essentially the same as a conciliation conference.


The terminology used in this Q&A and in courts or commissions can differ slightly depending upon the type of claim made and where it is made. For the purposes of this Q&A we will use:

  • claim: depending upon the jurisdiction this will usually be an ‘application’ or a ‘complaint’. For example, in the Fair Work Commission most forms will be an ‘application’.
  • conciliator: depending on where conciliation takes place and the type of claim this could be a Commissioner or Member of a Commission, a Conciliation Officer, a registrar of a court, or a person who is assigned to the conciliation and accredited as a mediator.


The below information can also be applied to pre-trial conferences in the Magistrates Court for disputes relating to your employment, though the term conciliation is used throughout the document.


Q&A: Conciliation Conferences for WA Employees