Sacked for a Tweet - Free Speech Union of Australia

Sacked for a Tweet

Wednesday Dec 27 2023 at 18:00 PM

Case Update - 19 January 2024

We have had a considerable amount of support of Andrew, including press coverage and lots of signatures. Andrew now has an appeal within RMIT, with an 'independent' review panel, who make a recommendation to the Vice Chancellor.

Unfortunately, the NTEU (the Academics Union in Australia) appear not to have fulfilled their responsibility to appoint someone independent to this panel. We have had to write to the Panel Chair (Mr. Brian Lacy) and the NTEU to request that this be corrected.

Letter to Brian Lacy and NTEU

RMIT University Professor Sacked for a Tweet

Below is the story of one of our members, Professor Andrew Timming, who was dismissed (subject to an appeal) by RMIT University this year. He was dismissed in effect for an innocuous tweet, made as a part of the public engagement that RMIT and other Universities increasingly like to encourage.

This case is most concerning. It shows that there is no academic freedom at RMIT University. This could happen to anyone, be they a staff or student, who happens to say something that someone takes exception to. This is the opposite of what a University should be: a place for free inquiry and discussion, no matter who might be offended.

Andrew's story is below in his own words. Please do sign his petition below and support his legal crowdfunder if you can:

I was unlawfully fired by RMIT University in December 2023 for exercising my workplace rights.

It all started with a tweet.

This tweet.

Andrews Tweet

After being threatened with disciplinary action and subsequently bullied, I lodged a complaint in May 2023 alleging a violation of the University's academic freedom policy. This was the start of my nightmare.

The week after lodging my complaint, I was stood down as Professor of Management and Deputy Dean Research and Innovation and prevented from communicating with any of my colleagues. When I asked why I was being stood down, I was told that RMIT had initiated the "Termination of Employment on Grounds of Ill Health" clause (31) in our Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, in spite of the fact that, just one day before my stand down, RMIT was provided a letter from my doctor stating that "Prof. Timming is fit to carry out his usual duties now and into the future."

RMIT viciously bullied me for months. It withdrew sponsorship of my Department of Defence security clearance. When the University's own doctor instructed it to return me to my role of Deputy Dean "with immediate effect," the following week I was instead sacked as Deputy Dean, reverting back to my underlying professorial appointment.

I brought RMIT to the Fair Work Commission under its anti-bullying jurisdiction to force them to return me to work after having been stood down for months. Rather than face a loss in the Fair Work Commission, the University finally returned me to work in October 2023, at which point the bullying reached fever pitch.

When RMIT attempted to load me up with teaching that was not agreed in my work plan, I initiated the workload dispute resolution clause (38.26) in our Enterprise Bargaining Agreement. Just days before Christmas, I was sacked, allegedly for not doing the very work that I was already disputing under the Agreement.

The real reason for my termination was that I exercised a workplace right to complain about RMIT's violation of my right to freedom of speech.

I have appealed my termination to RMIT's Vice Chancellor, Professor Alec Cameron.

Please sign this petition to let him know that free speech in universities must be defended and that I should be returned to work "with immediate effect."

If you wish to donate to my legal defence fund, please complete the form below. In the event that I am reinstated, all remaining donations will go directly to the Free Speech Union of Australia.

Please follow me on X and check out my website for updates:

Thank you so much for your support!


Professor Timming was most recently Professor of Management and Deputy Dean Research & Innovation at RMIT University, where he also previously held the role of Head of Department of Management, International Business and Entrepreneurship. He holds a PhD from Cambridge University in the UK. He started his academic career lecturing at Cambridge, followed by academic positions at the University of Manchester, the University of St Andrews, the University of Western Australia, and RMIT University. He resides in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and children.

Donate to Professor Timming's Case

Please complete the form below to donate directly to Professor Timming's crowdfunder.