|We all have a responsibility to eliminate disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace|
I feel very strongly about keeping the spotlight on the issue of sexual harassment in the profession. We must continue to find ways to create more open workplaces, backed by the appropriate policies, reporting processes and support, and ultimately empower victims to speak out, without fear of negative repercussions.
In yet another example of why we need to keep the spotlight on this, last week, the Chief Justice and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia issued a statement in relation to two complaints against a Judge of that Court.
The Law Council of Australia (LCA) publicly acknowledged that statement, commending the Court for its detailed investigations and inquiry process. The LCA is once again urging the Federal Government to amend the Sex Discrimination Act (Cth) to make it plain that court staff and judicial officers, along with politicians and their staff, are covered by its terms. The LCA has also repeated its call for the establishment of a Federal Judicial Commission.
As an association representing 43 per cent of the nation’s solicitors - and LCA’s largest constituent member - we fully support these calls.
We all have a responsibility to be part of the solution to eliminate disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace and ensure that victims can speak out against such behaviour - safe in the knowledge that it will have severe consequences for the perpetrator, and not them.
Today, we are launching a new portal on the Law Society website which deals solely with the issue of sexual harassment in the legal workplace, including steps you can take if you have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment, discrimination or victimisation. I urge all practitioners to look at the information available on this dedicated portal and to share this link with colleagues and staff.
Included on this portal is information on important new Law Society training designed to inform the profession and combat sexual harassment in the law.
This includes a new workshop, available through our CPD program, dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace and workplace culture. The workshop identifies inappropriate conduct, the role of bystanders, workplace culture and the reporting and management of complaints. The first training session will be held on 12 August 2021 with monthly stand-alone workshops until the end of the year. You can register here.
On a final note, we are asking all members to participate in a Law Society survey on COVID-19 and the justice system. We will be emailing you information this week, so please keep an eye out for the survey request in your inbox and take some time to provide your feedback to help inform our advocacy to government and the courts about what works, what doesn’t, and what changes we want to see continued and expanded into the future.
Until next week, stay well and stay safe.
Juliana Warner, President, the Law Society of NSW