Asian Australian Lawyers AssociationStatement from the National Executive Committee
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The National Executive Committee of the Asian Australian Lawyers Association supports the statement by the President of the Australian Bar Association in relation to the recent findings of an independent investigation regarding former Justice of the High Court the Hon Dyson Heydon AC QC.
AALA is in full agreement that sexual harassment has no place in any workplace, including the legal profession, and that all members in the legal profession must work together to ensure that the legal profession is a safe workplace for everyone.
In 2018, the International Bar Association and Acritas conducted the largest-ever global survey on bullying and sexual harassment in the legal profession with responses received from nearly 7,000 individuals from 135 countries. The results showed that approximately one in three female respondents had been sexually harassed in a workplace context, as had one in 14 male respondents. The results provided empirical confirmation that bullying and sexual harassment are rife in the legal profession.
In 2019, the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner conducted a survey on sexual harassment in the Victorian legal sector with responses from over 2,300 lawyers and 259 law practices. The Victorian survey found that more than one in three lawyers had experienced sexual harassment at work, with close to two third of female respondents having experienced this behaviour, compared with just over one in ten male respondents. In many cases, the harassment was highly destructive to the respondents’ personal wellbeing, and often their careers.
It is encouraging to learn that the High Court has now implemented a range of policy changes designed to ensure that “the experiences of these women will not be repeated”*.
AALA hopes that similar improvements in workplace policies are made across the legal profession as a whole.
If you have experienced sexual harassment in your workplace, in addition to accessing your workplace’s policies, you may wish to lodge a complaint with the relevant anti-discrimination or equal opportunity Board or Commission in your State or Territory, the Australian Human Rights Commission or contact Safe Work Australia.
*For the full text of the Chief Justice Kiefel’s Statement, go to: