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Courts not immune from sexual harassment - reforms needed says LIV

Courts not immune from sexual harassment - reforms needed says LIV

By LIV Media

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Courts must be safe places of work for all those who work in them, as well as those who have to appear before them, according to the Law Institute of Victoria.

LIV President Tania Wolff commended the Courts for tackling the scourge of sexual harassment and co-operating with the Report on the Review of Sexual Harassment in Victorian Courts and VCAT by Dr Helen Szoke.

“Courts are a reflection of the society we live in, and so they are not immune from workplace cultural issues including sexual harassment,” Ms Wolff said.

“There is a hierarchical structure to our courts and the legal profession which can compound the difficulty of those experiencing sexual harassment in coming forward,” she said.

“Victims can fear jeopardising their careers if they complain about a senior judicial figure,” she said.

“Judges, senior barristers and lawyers have a lot of power and influence over younger and less experienced members of our profession. It is important that everyone who works within our courts and tribunals feels safe and respected,” she said.

The LIV congratulates the former Attorney General Jill Hennessy, and the Chief Justice of Victoria, Anne Ferguson for initiating the review and their commitment to ensuring that courts and tribunals addressed sexual harassment issues and were safe and respectful workplaces for all.

The Law Institute of Victoria is committed to working with the profession and the justice system on preventing and addressing sexual harassment in courts and tribunals.

“We know women have left our profession having experienced sexual harassment. The old saying of ‘the standard you walk past is the standard you accept’ has been the reality for too long. The time for change is now. And acknowledging the behaviours that need to cease is a step towards correcting it,” she said.

Ms Wolff said training and sexual harassment policies were important, as was victim centred responses to any complaints.


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