All humans have the right to be treated equally, with dignity and respect. Sexual harassment is a breach of those fundamental rights, unlawful and unacceptable.
Liberty Victoria joins the voices of condemnation following the results of an independent High Court inquiry into the behaviour exhibited by the Hon Dyson Heydon AC QC in relation to six female complainants.
Women are frequently sexually harassed and assaulted at work and are entitled to feel safe and to effective protection against those and all other forms of discrimination.
Incidents like this risk impacting the public perception about the handling of sexual assault offences in and by the criminal justice system.
Judicial associates and those who work for courts are entitled to feel safe and respected in their workplace. Liberty Victoria calls on all Australian courts and tribunals to examine their procedures and implement changes to ensure that people who are being bullied, harassed or discriminated against are able to report that behaviour without fear of retribution.
As stated by Lieutenant General David Morrison in 2016: “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”. The findings of the High Court’s inquiry are a salient reminder to everyone that we all have a role in protecting and promoting human rights, and speaking up when we hear about or witness unacceptable behaviour.
Statistics show that the issue of sexual harassment in the legal profession is prevalent and continuing problem. Experiences of sexual harassment are a common reason why women leave the profession, which is poorer for their departure. The legal profession must proactively address the prevailing power structures. The legal profession’s culture of deference to those in positions of power and authority too often acts as a barrier to reporting and stamping out of such behaviours.
For enquiries contact Liberty Victoria at
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03 9670 6422