The Victorian Bar welcomes and supports the initiative of the Victorian Legal Services Board and the Victorian Legal Services Commission to address sexual harassment in the legal profession.
“If even one person has experienced sexual harassment, that is one too many,” said Dr Matt Collins QC, President of the Victorian Bar. “Sexual harassment is never acceptable in any workplace and certainly not at the Victorian Bar.”
In October 2018 the Victorian Bar reported the results of its landmark survey “Wellbeing of the Victorian Bar”, undertaken to explore the quality of members’ working lives and areas of concern. Most barristers reported being satisfied with the quality of their working lives, but one in six women (16 per cent) and two per cent of men reported experiencing sexual harassment in the past year.
“The Victorian Bar is committed to providing an environment where barristers, and those who come into contact with them, can conduct themselves free from sexual harassment”, said Dr Collins. “We look forward to working with the Victorian Legal Services Board and the Victorian Legal Services Commission to improve the work environments of all those in the legal profession.
“The Victorian Bar launched new conduct policies against sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination in July 2018. These policies outline the Bar’s processes for reporting or making a complaint regarding instances of bullying, discrimination or sexual harassment against barristers by barristers, or by persons who engage with barristers. The Bar has appointed 10 of its respected members, from diverse backgrounds, as Bar Conciliators, with training to conciliate complaints and provide advice.
“Getting the architecture right is, however, only part of the story. Equally important is ensuring that all members of the Bar, and those who come into contact with members of the Bar, are aware of the Bar’s zero tolerance approach towards sexual harassment and their options if they experience or witness harassment.
“We can always do more. We all have a responsibility to call out sexual harassment, bullying and discriminatory behaviour when we see it.”