Orwell D. Foenander

Who was Orwell Foenander?

Orwell de Ruyter Foenander, a former academic at the University, was one of the leading figures in industrial relations scholarship in the early 20th century

Foenander was born in 1890, and in 1909, he began a law course at the University of Melbourne. He joined the newly established Faculty of Economics and Commerce in 1926 as a part-time lecturer and, by 1954, was appointed the head of the newly-formed Department of Industrial Relations. He was the first head of an industrial relations department at an Australian university.

He retired from full-time teaching in 1957; but continued on a part-time basis to his retirement in 1969. He died in 1985.


His research was focussed on the federal system of conciliation and arbitration. Foenander had met Henry Bournes Higgins (the second president of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration) during World War I. Higgins had advised Foenander to take up the study of Australia's system of industrial tribunals.

After contemplating this advice for about a decade, Foenander devoted his academic work to examining the activities and role of the federal tribunal. His primary focus was on the economic and protective functions of the federal tribunal. He was interested in the role of industrial tribunals to deal with social problems and influenced the role of unions.

Orwell de Ruyter Foenander
Orwell de Ruyter Foenander
12 April 1975
Photo credit: Norman Wodetzki,
Queensberry Photography

Books Published by Orwell Foenander

  • Towards industrial peace in Australia : a series of essays in the history of the commonwealth Court of conciliation and arbitration; an economic-legal-historical study (1937)

  • Solving labour problems in Australia : being an additional series of essays in the history of industrial relations in Australia (1941)

  • Wartime labour developments in Australia : with suggestions for reform in the post-war regulation of industrial relations (1943)

  • Industrial regulation in Australia : a study of awards, method of remuneration fixation and the status of trade unions under the Australian regulative system (1947)

  • Studies in Australian labour law and relations (1952)

  • Trade union rules and the "political levy" Australia (1953)

  • Better employment relations and other essays in labour (1954)

  • Developments in the law governing workers compensation in Victoria (1956);

  • Industrial conciliation and arbitration in Australia (1959)

  • Trade unionism in Australia : some aspects (1962)

  • Shop stewards and shop committees : a study in trade unionism and industrial relations in Australia (1965)

  • Industrial conciliation and arbitration in Australia (1971)

  • Recent developments in Australian industrial regulation (1971)