Interview with NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee
As a committee, what does it mean to be awarded the 2020 Australian Young Lawyer Organisation Award?
NSW Young Lawyers and our Human Rights Committee are delighted that the Law Council of Australia has recognised our work to raise awareness of and provide training about sexual harassment in the legal workplaces. Together, we can work to create a profession where sexual harassment is actively prevented and addressed when it does occur.
Can you tell us a little bit the Addressing Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces program which was the basis of your Award?
NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee started this program with a submission, and then went on to co-host an awareness raising event on preventing and responding to sexual harassment for 70 people in late 2019 for International Human Rights Day. In light of the recent revelations of sexual harassment in the legal profession going all the way to the High Court, we acted quickly to publish a public statement of concern against sexual harassment in the legal profession and organised active bystander training to teach young lawyers how to identify, and intervene to address sexual harassment in the workplace. We trained more than 200 people in how to be an active bystander.
Part of the program was the provision of Sexual Harassment Bystander Training. Can you tell us a little more about that and the #ActiveBystanderPledge?
Our sexual harassment active bystander training session gave practical tips and guidance so attendees can identify and respond when sexual harassment occurs. We provided tips so that no matter the situation, people are ready with appropriate options to respond. Together with Women Lawyers Association NSW we encourage members of the profession to join us in taking the #activebystanderpledge and posting the hashtag and social media tile, along with a personal commitment to stand against sexual harassment in the law, to their platform of choice. Together we can show that sexual harassment won’t be overlooked, and that we will be active bystanders when we see it occur.
What’s next for the Committee in 2021 and beyond?
NSW Young Lawyers and the Human Rights Committee hopes to continue raising awareness and training the profession to remove sexual harassment from legal workplaces, and create a culture in legal workplaces where sexual harassment is not tolerated, and complainants are supported to come forward and report. We look forward to running active bystander training again next year.
From your perspective, what are some of the key legal issues and challenges the legal profession needs to focus on, particularly for young lawyers?
We want to see a legal profession that looks after the safety and wellbeing of young lawyers. Our Charity of the Year for 2021 is Minds Count, the organisation that published the Psychological Wellbeing: Best Practice Guidelines for the Legal Profession that many legal workplaces have signed onto. We want to see a renewed focus on best practice implementation of these Guidelines.