Push, Pull, or Nudge – How “Nudge Theory” can offer new ways for tribunals to get the message across

Justice Ian Ross AO 1

1Fair Work Commission, Melbourne, VIC

Nudge Theory – also known as behavioural economics – combines insights from psychology, cognitive science and economics to influence people’s behaviour in predictable and constructive ways.

Nudge Theory’s potential to achieve big impacts from relatively small, inexpensive interventions has seen it utilised by public sector agencies around the world. However, while there are successful examples in the justice sector, tribunals have generally not been leaders in the application of behavioural insights.

This presentation will examine how Nudge Theory can be applied in the tribunal context, for the benefit of both the institutions and those who use their services, and will discuss the Fair Work Commission’s initiatives in this area.


On 1 March 2012 Iain was appointed Judge of the Federal Court and President of Fair Work Australia (now Fair Work Commission)

Prior to his present appointment, Iain was a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria and the President of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.  Iain was also Chair of the Council of Australasian Tribunals from June 2010 to April 2014 and the inaugural Chair of the Mediator Standards Board, a position he relinquished in October 2011.


The COAT is intended to facilitate liaison and discussion between the heads of tribunals. It will support the development of best practice models and model procedural rules, standards of behaviour and conduct for members and increased capacity for training and support for members.