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The video below, "In Their Eyes" details the history of the IR Society of SA (IRSSA) / ALERA SA.

Life Members and Pas Presidents of this group reflect on:

• IRSSA's Formation

• Their involvement with IRSSA / ALERA SA

• Industrial relations developments in Australia and South Australia over the years

• The transition from IRSSA to ALERA SA

• The role played by IRSSA and ALERA SA more generally

The IRSSA was formed in early 1961 and was the second such group established in Australia (and closely followed the establishment of the first industrial relations society in New South Wales in 1958).  Professor Kingsley Laffer, who was a central figure in the foundation of the NSW Society and the first editor of the Journal of Industrial Relations, encouraged the formation of a society in this State.

Important roles in the establishment of the SA Society were played by present and past IRSSA life members:

  • Professor Keith Hancock AO (the first State Secretary and later the fifth National President - Adelaide University, Flinders University and later Senior Deputy President of the AIRC);
  • John Portus OBE (the first State President and AIRC Commissioner);
  • Lindsay Bowes AM (Department of Labour and Industry, first State Vice President and the fourth National President); and
  • John Cross (Chrysler Motors Australia and later AIRC Commissioner).

 Others involved in the early years included:

  • Arthur Scriven (General Motors Holden);
  • Reg Hurst (Electrical Trades Union and later became the Speaker of the House of Assembly);
  • Harry Krantz OAM (Federated Clerks Union);
  • Muriel Dosa (Clothing Trades Union);

A list of early Office-bearers can be accessed here. 

The South Australian Society has a long and proud tradition of hosting both national and state conventions and has supplied no less than eight National Presidents to the Australian parent body over the years.

Early administrative support for the Society was provided by organisations such as the University of Adelaide, Department of Labour and Industry (now known as SafeWork SA), the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc (now part of Business SA), the United Trades and Labour Council of SA (now known as SA Unions) and the Industrial Relations Court and Commission of SA.

During the Society’s fifty years, it has developed from an entirely voluntary organisation to the point where it engages a professional secretariat to conduct its day-to-day administrative affairs. The committee of management is however the decision-making body, and it remains a fully volunteer board. The committee generally meets on a monthly basis and is responsible for the management of the Society including organising the membership events, conducting its financial affairs, setting membership rates, and fostering the study and understanding of industrial relations issues within the community and amongst its members.

Over the years, the committee of management has included many leading members of the national and state industrial tribunals, industrial relations professionals and union leaders, nationally recognised academics, community organisation leaders and high-profile members of the legal profession.

The Patron of the Society is The Hon. Greg Stevens



Postal: PO Box 10265, Adelaide BC SA 5000
Phone: 1300 918 207


ABN 27 907 944 812


ALERA SA is a member of  ALERA.  ALERA is governed by an Executive Committee made up of representatives from the affiliated States and Territory bodies. ALERA brings together representatives of trade unions, employers, Government, the legal profession and academics and to both organise and foster discussion, research, education and publication within the field of industrial and workplace relations.

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