Natalie James

2014 College Recipient, College of Arts, Society and Education

Natalie James graduated from James Cook University in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws and has been appointed to the position of Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman, the national workplace relations regulator.

This announcement, for five-year term starting in July 2013, was made by the then-Governor-General, The Honourable Quentin Bryce, and the then-Minister for Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten MP.

This appointment followed an independent, merit-based selection process conducted by senior representatives of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Australian Public Service Commission and in consultation with the Shadow Minister for Workplace Relations and the States and Territories.

While studying her undergraduate degree at James Cook University, Ms James worked in various retail and hospitality roles. Through these experiences, she developed an interest in workplace relations, leading her to enrol in a Masters in Industrial Law at the Australian National University in Canberra in 1996, while she was working as a graduate for the then-named Department of Employment, Education, Science and Technology.

Prior to her appointment as Fair Work Ombudsman, Ms James held a number of roles in the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, including as the manager of the Victorian State Office.

For the majority of the time in the Department, Ms James worked as a lawyer, helping frame Australia’s workplace relations laws, including the Fair Work Act.

By the end of her tenure in the area, she was leading this work from the position of Chief Counsel, Workplace Relations.

Earlier in her career, Ms James also worked in a number of roles in Australian Government, including the Department of the House of Representatives and at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Throughout her career, Ms James has taken an active interest in mentoring women in the Public Service.

A keen runner, Ms James has just completed her fifth Sydney City to Surf. Ms James is an active member of the community and recently participated in the Vinnies CEO SleepOut to raise funds and awareness for homeless Australians.