Michelle Dawson


M: +61 478 330 087



Michelle has over 25 years’ experience and is one of HBA’s key leaders in employment law and industrial relations.

Michelle solves challenges for clients across the spectrum of industries including manufacturing, the water sector, construction, conservation and research, not for profit, tourism and hospitality, transport and energy, food and beverage, mining and professional services.

Michelle is a true business partner to her clients – she takes the time to understand the inner workings of each business she acts for, to provide the most strategic yet practical advice and outcome specific to each business.

For the past decade, Michelle has been a Law Institute of Victoria Accredited Specialist in Workplace Relations.

Michelle is a longstanding contributing member of the Law Institute of Victoria’s Accredited Specialisation Scheme Workplace Relations Advisory Committee.  Michelle is also an active member of the New South Wales Law Society’s Employment Law committee and Diversity & Inclusion committee.  She is a member of the Australian Human Resources Institute, the Industrial Relations Society of NSW, the Law Institute of Victoria and the Law Society of NSW.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Laws (2006) from the University of New England as well as a Bachelor of Legal & Justice Studies (2002) and an Associate Degree in Law (2000), both from Southern Cross University.



Michelle is an advisor and advocate across all aspects of human resources, employment and industrial law and is widely considered one of Australia’s best when it comes to:

  • Employee disciplinary action, process and termination issues, with a focus on employer risk management;
  • Employment and post-employment disputes including dismissal, general protections and restraint-related disputes;
  • Employment agreements for employees, including executives with complex remuneration strategies;
  • Contractor arrangements and agreements;
  • Workforce management strategies, including stand down, redundancy, outsourcing and restructure;
  • Enterprise bargaining, industrial strategy and disputes;
  • Legislative, Enterprise Agreement/Award and regulatory interpretation and compliance;
  • Equal Opportunity/ discrimination/ sexual harassment risk management and dispute resolution;
  • Workplace investigations; and
  • Employee-related visa and migration matters.

She is an accomplished advocate, regularly appearing and advocating in matters for clients in a variety of courts and tribunals nationally.

In 2020, Michelle successfully defended a complex industrial dispute arbitration proceeding brought by the CFMMEU. In this matter Michelle achieved an excellent result – most importantly, a result the client was delighted with.

Michelle also successfully ran the series of significant 2011/2012 Fair Work Commission, Federal Magistrates Court and Federal Court of Appeal cases in the matter of Frankston City Council v Cugura. These decisions continue to be relevant, cited and relied upon in matters pertaining to the issues of multiple actions (under s727) and costs (under s570) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).


Why clients like her ….

Michelle has a no-nonsense, straight-talking, and easy-to-understand style. Clients rest easy knowing Michelle’s advice and representation will be practical and outcomes-focused.


Practice Areas