Legal profession harassment review released

The State Government has committed to carefully considering the findings of an independent review into harassment within the legal profession.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the review, undertaken by Acting Equal Opportunity Commissioner Steph Halliday, would help provide a blueprint for both the profession and Government.

“This review is an unpleasant read, but a crucially important document,” Attorney-General Chapman said.

“The extent and nature of harassment within the legal profession is alarming, and must be addressed.

“The fact that nearly half of the respondents who’d experienced some form of sexual harassment didn’t report it because they were concerned of the impact it may have on their careers is unacceptable, and should not happen in a contemporary workplace.”

Ms Chapman said she was committed to tackling both sexual and discriminatory harassment in the workplace, and will be carefully considering the recommendations that pertain to the Government and to her as Attorney-General.

“Lawyers working in both private practice and the public sector participated in this review and, as Attorney-General, I am keen to ensure those agencies I oversee – namely the Attorney-General’s Department, the Courts Administration Authority and the Legal Services Commission – all have appropriate measures in place to address sexual and discriminatory harassment,” she said.

“I’m pleased to see that a number of staff felt confident enough to speak up, and it’s now incumbent on both the Government and the profession to listen to what they’ve said and consider how we can move to better protect people working in the profession in future.

“The Attorney-General’s Department is the largest employer in the legal profession in South Australia, and I will be considering each of Ms Halliday’s recommendations as they relate to both Government and that agency in detail.

“I have already acted on one of the recommendations, and that is to provide the review to key stakeholders, such as the Law Society of South Australia and the Courts Administration Authority.”

In addition, the review will be published at https://eoc.sa.gov.au/initiatives/independent-review-harassment-legal-profession.

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