Uni Melbourne in Federal Court case against head of school

The University of Melbourne and Jennifer Milam, art historian and head of its School of Culture and Communication, are in the Federal Court.

Professor Milam commenced the action earlier this month, claiming the university breached obligations to her under the Fair Work Act, relating to a misconduct investigation.

While no one is talking, the court record refers to Professor Milam raisingcertain governance matters in the Faculty of Arts” and the university conducting a preliminary inquiry, “into matters concerning the interaction between certain senior academic staff of the faculty.”

At the end of January, the university suspended Professor Milam, pending further investigation. She was directed to attend campus only to prepare for and teach classes.

Professor Milam argued that the university’s requirement she stay off campus would “substantially impede, if not render impossible” her leading a bid for an Australian Research Council centre.

She asked the court to restrain the university, which Justice Anastassiou agreed to, prior to the matter going to trial. He added that Professor Milam “is very likely to suffer significant harm to her reputation if her suspension is continued. In my view, such harm is not readily compensable by an award of damages.”

Professor Milam did not respond to a request for comment. A university spokesperson said, “it would be inappropriate for the university to comment on this matter while it is before the court.”


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