New policies introduced for workplace harassment, bullying and discrimination
The Victorian Bar has launched a revised code of conduct for its members.
New policies have been introduced for barristers concerning sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination.
The revised code was launched by Senior Vice President Róisín Annesley QC, Junior Vice President Darryl Burnett and Bar Council member Nawaar Hassan after consultation with the Bar among its more than 2200 members.
The on-line launch was attended by heads of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the County Court and the Magistrates’ Court, and a senior judge representing the Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Australia.
The revised code encourages reporting of bullying, sexual harassment or discrimination.
It also offers support for victims and guidance to barristers who need to improve their conduct with the introduction of a Peer Support Barristers Program.
As a result, volunteer barristers will be trained to provide support to those who have experienced harassment, bullying or discrimination in the workplace.
Peer support barristers will also be able to assist fellow barristers, concerned about their behaviour, by assisting them to undertake remedial action or counselling.
Victorian Bar President Christopher Blanden QC said: “All barristers and those with whom they work and interact have the right to go about their daily business in a safe and supportive environment”.
“This revised code of conduct sends a strong message that sexual harassment, bullying, and discrimination is unacceptable behaviour by barristers in connection with their practice.”
The Victorian Bar has also revised its Grievance Protocol enabling anyone who interacts with barristers to raise a grievance with its Ethics Committee. It is no longer limited to barristers complaining about another barrister but now includes anyone who comes into contact with a barrister in connection with that barrister’s practice.
“The Bar is committed to providing a straightforward, accessible procedure to address concerns, reports and complaints through this revised Grievance Protocol,” said Mr Blanden.