The highlight of this week was the release of the State of the Victorian Bar report on Tuesday evening. The report is the most comprehensive demographic survey the Victorian Bar has ever produced, combining data drawn from the Bar Roll and a survey to which 627 of our members—31% of the Bar—responded. The report provides fascinating insights into trends in practice, income, equality and diversity. In releasing the report, the Bar is celebrating our achievements as well as squarely facing our challenges.
Some headline points:
The whole of the report is available for members to review on our website.
I thank all members who took the time to participate in the survey. Thanks to you, we had sufficient data to produce a robust report which will be used to guide measures that will further enhance the reputation of the Bar and the practices of its members.
Finally on this topic, last year’s survey asked whether members had experienced bullying, discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace over the past 5 years. The results revealed that, on each measure, the incidence was markedly lower than in the Australian workforce generally. Bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment are, however, of course, unacceptable at any level. The Bar will undertake a further survey of members later in the year that is designed to provide a more detailed picture of the prevalence of bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment at the Bar and enable us better to understand the contexts in which they occur. As I announced last week, the Bar Council has updated our policies relating to bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment and introduced new grievance and reporting measures. More information is available on our website. The Bar will hold a CPD seminar to introduce the new policies and processes to our members on 23 April. For details, open the “Victorian Bar Member CPD Events” link below.
Victorian Bar Foundation Student Award and Mentoring Program
I am looking forward to presenting awards this afternoon to potential future members of our Bar from the Hume region, as part of the inaugural Victorian Bar Foundation Student Award & Mentoring Program. The students are from the outer north-western suburbs of Melbourne, including Broadmeadows, Craigieburn and Sunbury.
The aim of the Program is to demonstrate—as our survey has confirmed—that the Bar is open to all on merit, irrespective of socio-economic circumstances, ethnic background, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or disability.
In this first year of the Program, the Victorian Bar Foundation has partnered with the City of Hume to award a prize of $1,500 each to the highest-ranking units 1 and 2 legal studies student at each of the 16 high schools in the Hume region. Each prize winner, as well as two other year 11 legal studies students at each school (that is, 48 students in total), will be partnered with a mentor from the junior ranks of the Victorian Bar.