SACKED music lecturer Dr Jan-Piet Knijff has accepted a settlement from the University of New England instead of continuing to pursue a claim of unfair dismissal through Fair Work Australia.
As the agreement involves the usual non-disparagement clauses binding on both parties, neither were willing to disclose much about it; however, Dr Knijff did speak to The Express about the factors that influenced his decision and his plans for the future.
In essence, he and his wife decided there was no advantage to be gained from continuing the fight.
“Adding it all up, it was hard to know why we would take the matter further, other than some kind of general justice,” he said.
“In terms of practicalities, it was far more attractive to accept the university’s offer for settlement.”
Asked if another consideration had been how comfortable he would have felt returning to the music department if he had won reinstatement, Dr Knijff said this was something he had thought about over the past six weeks.
However, he said it had not played a major role in his decision because it was an unlikely outcome.
“Pretty simply, it’s a matter of statistics,” he said. “From my information, the overall number for reinstatements by Fair Work Australia is three per cent. In weighing up the options, in practical terms, we felt it would have been unwise to not accept.”
He said the union had been helpful and supportive, but ultimately he made his decision in conjunction with his wife.
Admirers of Dr Knijff’s musical abilities will be glad to hear he is in no hurry to leave Armidale, and intends to stay at least until the end of July to fulfil commitments he has made to the Bach Festival this weekend, and also an upcoming Beethoven Festival.
He said that full-time academic positions in music performance did not arise frequently, so in the meantime he would be happy to continue living in the community that welcomed him so warmly.
“I will continue teaching privately, and I am hoping to do more of that,” he said.
“My wife has her own practice in acupuncture and massage, so we could both work for ourselves.
“Beyond my commitments in terms of performance and community music, I would like to stay in Armidale because I feel I am committed to the students that I have been working with.”
Dr Knijff was teaching Latin and Greek as well as music at UNE, and has private students in both areas.
He said both he and his wife had quickly become part of the community and enjoyed living here.
“We moved here out of choice, and I’m very grateful to the University of New England for offering me a job, because that was the reason for us to move here,” he said. “And we are very glad that we moved here.
“In the absence of a direct reason for us to move away, we don’t particularly want to go.”
The UNE released a short statement in relation to the matter.
“We’ve now settled the Jan-Piet Knijff dispute, and the terms of settlement are confidential,” it said.
“The UNE now considers the matter closed.”