Sexual harassment has no place in the legal profession

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) condemns sexual harassment and its prevalence in the legal profession.

Following the distressing revelations about the conduct of former High Court Judge Dyson Heydon, PIAC supports calls for urgent reform and increased judicial oversight to end sexual harassment in the legal profession.

Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination that impedes the advancement of women both professionally and personally. It is not only damaging for those individuals subjected to it, but represents a cultural and institutional problem that requires a broader response. It is often an abuse of trust. It is always an abuse of power.

PIAC lawyers acknowledge the bravery of the six former High Court associates who have spoken out about their treatment by Dyson Heydon.

We stand in solidarity with these women – and those others that have subsequently come forward to share their experiences – and recognise the barriers that currently prevent women from speaking out about their experiences or making complaints to employers, professional bodies or police.

We also acknowledge the critical work done by Australian Women Lawyers, the Women Lawyers Association of NSW and the Australian Human Rights Commission to expose and work to eliminate sexual harassment in our profession and we endorse their calls for reform.

PIAC Principal Solicitor Michelle Cohen:

‘Multiple media reports over the past week have highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment in our profession’.

‘It is completely unacceptable that any woman should leave the law because of sexual harassment’.

PIAC CEO Jonathon Hunyor:

‘The revelations concerning former Justice Heydon are an indictment on our failure to act collectively as a profession. They show that we have much work left to do to ensure women are safe at work and free from discrimination in their practice of law.’


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