President's Message - meeting with Heads of Chambers
Earlier this week the Bar Council Executive met with Heads of Chambers to discuss issues relating to sexual harassment at the NSW Bar. At the meeting Heads of Chambers reaffirmed their commitment to eliminating sexual harassment, promoting a safe workplace for all members and staff. They expressed their unequivocal support for the public commitment made by the Bar Association to eradicating sexual harassment of any kind at the NSW Bar and in the court system.
The Association will continue to work with chambers to achieve this goal, including increased access to training for members of chambers in order to assist them in dealing appropriately with complaints of, and issues concerning, sexual harassment.
In the course of the meeting many Heads of Chambers advised that they had adopted the Association’s Best Practice Guidelines or had developed and implemented their own guidelines or policies to address the matters contained in the Best Practice Guidelines within the specific structures of their floor or chambers. The Association will continue this ongoing dialogue and to work with Heads of Chambers in order to ensure that sexual harassment is understood as being plainly unacceptable, can be safely reported without fear of repercussions and eliminated from our profession.
Members may recall that last year in a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment, the Association raised concerns about lacunas in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) in order that these laws could be strengthened in relation to legal workplaces.
The Association has also raised these concerns with the New South Wales Attorney General and will continue to advocate for legislative reform to address this important issue and ensure sexual harassment in any workplace is unlawful. Members will be kept informed of developments in this regard.
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