NSW Law Society opens sexual harassment in law portal

"As an association that represents 43% of Australia's solicitors, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution," the society's president says

NSW Law Society opens sexual harassment in law portal

The NSW Law Society has announced the establishment of a new portal that aims to help solicitors address sexual harassment in the workplace.

“As an association that represents 43% of Australia’s solicitors, we have a responsibility to be part of the solution and ensure that victims can speak out against unacceptable behaviour in the knowledge that it will have severe consequences for the perpetrator, and not them,” President Juliana Warner said.

She added that the Sexual Harassment in the Law portal is a crucial part of the organisation’s current efforts to cut out “disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour” in legal offices. According to the NSW Law Society, the portal offers access to the following:

  • information on the steps to take if those working in the legal profession have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment, discrimination or victimisation and wish to report it
  • resources that shed light on sexual harassment in the legal profession and initiatives aimed at addressing it
  • important information on new NSW Law Society training devised to inform the profession and combat sexual harassment in the law
  • Workplace Guide and Model Discrimination and Harassment Policies – a practical guide published by the Law Society to help identify and eliminate discriminatory practices
  • the Charter for the Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession
  • the Law Society’s mental health and wellbeing portal
  • legislation and rules relevant to sexual harassment in the legal profession

The organisation will also hold a workshop on sexual harassment in the workplace and workplace culture as part of its continuing professional development program. The NSW Law Society said that the session will outline “inappropriate conduct, the role of bystanders, workplace culture and the reporting and management of complaints.”

The inaugural “Changing Workplace Culture” workshop takes place on 12 August. Each month, standalone sessions will be held until year end.

“I feel very strongly about keeping the spotlight on this issue and continuing to find ways to create more open workplaces, backed by the appropriate polices, reporting processes and support, and ultimately empower victims to speak out without fear of negative repercussions. Everyone has the right to feel safe and supported in their workplace,” Warner said.

The portal’s launch follows a recent spate of sexual harassment allegations that have come to light against members of the judiciary in Australia. Earlier this year, an internal inquiry found former Federal Circuit Court Judge Joe Harman guilty of sexual harassment.

Last year, the High Court also found that ex-justice Dyson Heydon had perpetrated harassment against six women.

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