The Victorian government will investigate how the legal industry deals with sexual harassment following the Dyson Heydon scandal.
Additionally, the Department of Justice will conduct a separate review of law firms that provide services to the government.
Victorian government to investigate sexual harassment
Dr Helen Szoke, a member of the Judicial Commission, will lead the probe.
The aim is to encourage those in the profession to identify ways to build a culture to “call out” sexual harassment across the state’s six jurisdictions.
The investigation comes as a result of disturbing revelations about former High Court judge Dyson Heydon.
An independent inquiry previously commissioned by the High Court found Heydon had sexually harassed a number of women.
Following the inquiry, even more women came forward to make allegations about the former judge.
Review aims to prevent harassment
The Victorian government review, initiated by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Anne Ferguson, will consider measures to:
- prevent sexual harassment,
- improve reporting and support for victims,
- and also ensure accountability throughout the legal profession.
Additionally, the separate review of law firms used by the government will identify any that fall short of appropriate standards.
They will subsequently be given an opportunity to bring their processes up to scratch or face the prospect of losing multi-million dollar contracts.
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Sexual harassment is never okay
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Human Rights Claims said sexual harassment is never okay.
“For too long, the legal profession has been rife with inappropriate sexual conduct and not enough accountability,” he said.
“It’s the perfect storm of powerful men and keen young staff who are afraid to complain in case it damages their future career prospects.
“I congratulate the Victorian government for these initiatives, because the legal profession’s #MeToo moment is long overdue.”
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