In Campbell v Australian Leisure Hospitality Group Pty Ltd and Anor [2015] ICQ 016 Martin J, President, of the Queensland Industrial Court delivered judgment today in relation to an appeal by the husband (the appellant) of a deceased worker against a decision of the Workers Compensation Regulator (the Regulator) to uphold a decision by Woolworths Limited (a self insurer) that there was no entitlement to compensation in circumstances where the deceased worker died after diving into the Noosa River while attending a Christmas party organised by the social club of her employer, the Australian Leisure and Hospitality Group (ALH – part of the Woolworths group) (the employer).

The Court endorsed the key principles as to whether an injury arises out of, or in the course of, employment as set out in Comcare v PVYW (2013) CLR 473 (PVYW). 

It was not disputed the employer encouraged the deceased to attend the Christmas party.

The appellant argued that the injury (the deceased’s death) arose in the course of her employment because running and diving into the river was within the scope of the “activity” constituted by attending the Christmas party.

The Court explained that PVYW has two parts:

  1. What was the activity being engaged in at the time of injury? And
  2. Did the employer induce or encourage the employee to engage in that activity?

The Court found that it was not appropriate to describe the activity as the Christmas Party and therefore find that any injury that occurred during the party was compensable. 

The Christmas Party was a barbeque. There was no reference to water activity or diving. No one at the party had any capacity to exercise any direction or control over the actions of the attendees. There was no evidence that any manager or person in authority while at work said or did anything “which would have encouraged staff to swim in the river, let alone dive into it”.

The Court found “there was nothing in the evidence which would have allowed a finding that there was any encouragement to run and dive into the water or that it was plainly within the scope of anything which had been encouraged by the employer."