Vale Charles Englander
The Industrial Relations Society sadly acknowledges the recent passing of former President, long-time Executive Committee member, and life member of the Society, Charles Englander.
The Society gratefully shares the following obituary authored by fellow former President of the IRSV and former President of the IRSA (predecessor to ALERA), Michael Butler, in tribute to Charles.
“A man of law in the world of wool”
This was the heading of the article in the December 2000 edition of the IRSV News Bulletin which introduced Charles as the incoming President of the IRSV. Prior to that Charles had served as Treasurer and as a Committee Member.
Charles’ background, as captured by the IRSV article, noted he was born in Melbourne, attended Camberwell High then the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Laws degree, then a Master of Laws degree. He then travelled widely before returning to Melbourne working with the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, now the AiGroup, as a legal officer, while also maintaining his own private practice in employment, intellectual property, commercial litigation and property law.
In February 1984, he went to the Australian Wool Testing Authority working as Manager Industrial and Legal Services, then General Counsel and Company Secretary. Charles retired from the AWTA in December 2020. Never one to be idle for long, he went back to his private practice advising clients on a broad range of corporate and employment law matters until his death, after a strong fight for many years with pancreatic cancer, on 25 August 2021.
Charles had a special mix of encyclopaedic knowledge and people skills with a retentive memory. He was a dedicated attendee and contributor to the IRSV over a long and sustained period of time. Never one to just make up the numbers, Charles threw himself into committee and other work to the betterment of the Society. He was the go to person on the IRSV’s rules, took care of investing and rolling over term deposits, co-authored the 2000 “IRSV Future Directions” report to the Executive Committee which led to a more professional level of administrative support to the IRSV, acted as Returning Officer for elections and attended, and actively participated in, functions.
Always quietly spoken, but not necessarily quiet, when he spoke, people listened. Charles was always keen to engage in discussion and debate about all aspects of workplace law.
Not only was Charles well educated with Bachelor and Masters degrees in law, he was always well presented, well spoken and well mannered, Charles had an even temperament and seemed to always be smiling and enjoying life. In smaller groups or in his one-on-one conversations, Charles would inject his dry sense of humour, broadening his smile even more. He cared about his appearance although not to the extent it prevented him from attending committee meetings and events in his last few years.
In a wonderful coincidence, Charles’ first address to IRSV members on becoming President is recorded in the first edition of the IRSV News Bulletin for 2001, published in February, which also records the appointment of our patron, Brian Lacy AO, to the AIRC, that same month.
In his first address Charles commented that, “The vexed question of casual employment emerged again during the Christmas/New Year break with the AIRC determined that some casual workers could convert to full-time or part-time employment after six month’s continuous service.” There are other references to various issues concerning casuals in that IRSV News Bulletin. Casuals continued to be an issue during his professional life and, in his view, the High Court got it right in its recent decision in Rossato.
With vast experience and knowledge spanning corporate and employment law, Charles knew a lot and offered a lot. His breadth and depth of knowledge was extraordinary. The IRSV was extremely fortunate to have him on its Committee and benefitted from his assistance in so many ways. When he wasn’t occupying official positions, he was co-opted onto the Committee, such was his knowledge of all things IRSV and his enthusiasm and desire to assist the IRSV. The IRSV was a better association from his membership and involvement.
Charles was made a Life Member of the IRSV in the 2000’s.
Charles also volunteered his time and contribute the same effort to the Law Institute of Victoria’s Workplace Relations Section, rising to Chair in 2014 & 2015 and also serving on the Sexual Harassment Working Group. He received a Certificate of Service from the Law Institute in 2016.
He modelled a standard of selfless, voluntary contribution, dedication and commitment that was second to none and both the IRSV and the LIV are the better for it.
In his spare time, Charles enjoyed being with his family, including bike riding, and keeping his home and garden in the neat state you would expect of him. Charles is survived by his wife, Julie, children Ziggy and Felicia, and stepdaughter Natalie.
President IRSV 2002 & Industrial Relations Society of Australia 2004
29 August 2021