Sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying

The New South Wales Bar Association is committed to the elimination of unacceptable behaviour in our workplaces and to a safe and inclusive legal profession.
 

SUPPORT SERVICES

The New South Wales Bar Association has launched the following initiatives to address sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying at the New South Wales Bar and to provide support to those experiencing it:

  • Spot is an online record making tool to allow sexual harassment, discrimination and workplace bullying to be recorded and if desired, reported confidentially and anonymously to the Bar’s Sexual Harassment Officer
  • The appointment of an independent Sexual Harassment Officer to provide dedicated, confidential support and advice to anyone who has experienced or witnessed sexual harassment, discrimination or bullying at the New South Wales Bar
  • Elker, an online reporting platform which will facilitate anonymous reporting to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner
  • Protocols with the Supreme Court of NSW and Heads of federal jurisdictions to facilitate the raising of concerns about members of the judiciary
  • Further information about where to find support is below 

Spot is an online tool which allows those who have experienced or witnessed discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment at the New South Wales Bar to make a confidential record or anonymously report the behaviour to an independent Sexual Harassment Officer.

The Bar Association is committed to eliminating discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment at the NSW Bar. Spot is designed to combat a reluctance to report by providing a secure, informal disclosure process to allow you to anonymously record your experience, have that account recorded and, if you wish, to seek support and better understand your options.

Spot is a completely secure online application which is designed to guide you through the process of reporting any incident.

To report an incident, you can initiate a conversation with Spot through the online platform. Spot is a bot, and is available 24 hours a day. It will prompt you to record exactly what you witnessed or experienced, who was involved, who saw it, where it happened and when. You are in control of the process. Spot will allow you to skip questions, add details and upload documents or records.

Anything you report to Spot will be entirely confidential and will not be seen by any other person.

Once you have created a record of an incident, Spot will provide you with a time stamped contemporaneous record of the incident which you can retain for your records.

If you wish, you can submit your record on an anonymous basis to the Bar Association’s independent Sexual Harassment Officer. You will be given the option of deciding whether or not you would like to be contacted by the Sexual Harassment Officer about the incident.

Your Spot report will remain anonymous and will not be seen by anyone else. Once you have created the record you don’t have to do anything else with it. You can retain the report as a contemporaneous record and consider your reporting options.

You may choose to send your report to the independent Sexual Harassment Officer via Spot on an anonymous basis. If you do so, the Sexual Harassment Officer may ask you some follow up questions via the Spot platform, which you can decide to respond to on an anonymous basis.

The Sexual Harassment Officer will periodically consider the aggregated anonymised data which is collected by Spot and will report to the Bar Association on identified trends and themes.

Spot will enable the Bar Association to be given a more complete picture of what is happening at the Bar.

Your reports, however minor, will all add up to give the Bar Association a clear picture of what needs to change so that it can be stopped.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT OFFICER

The Sexual Harassment Officer, Jenny Houen, provides a dedicated, confidential support function to anyone who has experienced or witnessed discrimination, bullying and/or sexual harassment at the NSW Bar. The role is completely independent of the Bar Association.

The Sexual Harassment Officer is available to listen to reports of inappropriate behaviour and provide support to those who have experienced or witnessed it. The Officer is not a grievance handler and does not have any involvement in investigating or adjudicating complaints.

You can contact the Sexual Harassment Officer directly for support and referral to services, or to seek advice about your options for making complaints.

You can contact Jenny via Spot, or directly on 0427 317 958 or at sexualharassmentofficer@nswbar.asn.au. All communications with the Sexual Harassment Officer are entirely confidential.

BarCare will also continue to be available alongside the Spot reporting tool to help members of the Bar Association and their immediate families to manage emotional and stress-related problems.

 

 

The Bar Association and Law Society of New South Wales (the Law Society) together with the Office of the New South Wales Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) are committed to eliminating sexual harassment and other inappropriate conduct  in the legal profession.

A key step towards achieving this goal is the OLSC initiative to create a platform to provide a safe space for victims and witnesses to report incidents.

This initiative is supported by the Law Society and the Bar Association. You can read the joint statement on the Elker launch here.

The OLSC has a dedicated team to support reporting and has implemented secure technology provided by an independent provider. This platform, known as Elker, will facilitate reporting an incident you have either witnessed, or experienced. This will be securely sent to the OLSC team.

The platform will log your matter, provide you with some preliminary information, connect you to the OLSC support team and provide you with a mechanism for checking on your matter’s progress.

If you wish to make a report using the platform, a link to the platform is here.

The Elker platform is available online 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. You can remain completely anonymous while making your report. While anonymous you can communicate with the OLSC team by encrypted 2-way chat (OLSC staffed in office hours only).

The Law Society and the Bar Association strongly support this initiative and are firmly committed to building awareness of it within the profession.   They do not have any access to the information you submit through the system.

The OLSC support team is solely responsible for implementing and managing the system and are the only ones who can access or review the information you submit.  The OLSC privacy policy is available here.

If you require technical support while using the system, please contact support+olsc@elker.com.

COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE JUDICIARY

If you are subject to or witness unacceptable conduct by a member of the judiciary, there are a range of options available to you. Information about these options, including anonymous reporting and informal or formal reporting options are outlined in the NSW Bar Association's Model Best Practice Guideline: Grievance and Complaint Framework (see, in particular, paragraphs 23-28). 

The NSW Bar Association has protocols in place with the Supreme Court of NSW and Heads of federal jurisdictions to facilitate the raising of concerns about members of the judiciary. Further details about these protocols are available here and here

As set out in the NSW Bar Association's Protocol with the Supreme Court of NSW, a barrister, or clerk on behalf of a barrister, may contact the President of the NSW Bar Association or an independent contact person nominated by the Executive of the Bar Council (known as a 'Judicial Conduct Liaison Officer') to raise concerns about the conduct of a judicial officer. Contact can be made by telephone, email or in person. The relevant contact details are set out below.

  • Ruth Higgins SC, President of the NSW Bar Association
  • Email - ruth.higgins@banco.net.au
  • Phone - 02 9376 0602

 

  • Kylie Nomchong SC, Judicial Conduct Liaison Officer
  • Email - nomchong@pghelychambers.com.au
  • Phone - 02 9224 9787

As set out in the protocols with the Heads of federal jurisdictions, a barrister may raise concerns about the conduct of a judicial officer or member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal with the President of the NSW Bar Association or the President of the Australian Bar Association. Contact can be made by telephone, email or in person. The contact details for the President of the NSW Bar Association are listed above. The contact details for the President of the Australian Bar Association are set out below.

  • Peter Dunning KC, President of the Australian Bar Association
  • Email - dunning@callinanchambers.com.au
  • Phone - 07 3218 0602

FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT WHERE TO GET SUPPORT

For further information about available support services and reporting pathways, you can refer to the following two fact sheets:

  1. What can I do if I am subject to or witness unacceptable conduct by a barrister or member of the judiciary in NSW
  2. Who can I contact if I have been impacted in any way by sexual harassment at the NSW Bar?  

ADDRESSING HARASSMENT, DISCRIMINATION AND BULLYING THROUGH CPD

The Bar Association’s Continuing Professional Development program includes a range of CPDs addressing harassment, discrimination and bullying, including a film titled No place for sexual harassment at the Bar, which includes statements from the former Chief Justice of NSW, the Hon. Tom Bathurst AC KC, and the former President of the NSW Bar Association, Michael McHugh SC, and training for Respectful Relations Officers (Webinar 1: Enabling Environments and Webinar 2: RRO Role in Practice). These webinars are available to all barristers and members through CPD online. Please contact the Association at dppa@nswbar.asn.au if you have any questions or require assistance.