The Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner has responded to a new report examining Sexual Harassment in Victorian Courts. The report was independently produced by Dr Helen Szoke, former Commissioner of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission. The final report was released on the 19th of April, and examined measures to prevent sexual harassment, as well as improve reporting and support for those who experience sexual harassment, and to raise awareness, and ensure accountability across the state’s courts.
The report included recommendations including:
- the development, promotion and implementation of a sexual harassment policy that covers all staff and contractors
- an independent review into the court’s recruitment process
- targeted sexual harassment and discrimination training
- an annual anonymous survey into harassment in the courts system
The Victorian Legal Services Board has acknowledged the report and its contents; expressing its support for the recommendations.
Victorian Legal Services Board CEO and Commissioner, Fiona McLeay has said: “The report’s 20 recommendations offer a clear roadmap for the courts and VCAT to foster respectful cultures and ensure safe workplaces. Like our 2019 study into sexual harassment in the legal profession, this report found that sexual harassment and the silence surrounding this behavior was perpetuated by power inequalities. We must build a culture where sexual harassment is no longer tolerated and where victim-survivors and bystanders feel safe to speak up. We look forward to working with the government and the courts to implement these changes to make a difference to everyone who works in the legal sector in Victoria”.