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National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces

The submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission (the AHRC) in relation to its National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces was prepared by the Law Council of Australia.

The timing of the National Inquiry is significant. Over the past year, sexual harassment has received significant media and social media attention, driven largely by the #MeToo movement and its focus on high-profile offenders.

The Law Council recognises that sexual harassment in Australian workplaces is pervasive and damaging. The legal profession is no different. All available statistics, as well as anecdotal evidence, suggest that sexual harassment within the Australian legal profession is a prevalent and persistent problem. In 2013, the Law Council conducted the National Attrition and Re-engagement Study (the NARS) to investigate the progression, attrition, and re-engagement rates of male and female lawyers, obtain qualitative and quantitative data, and identify gendered trends within the profession.

The NARS remains one of the most comprehensive studies of the Australian legal profession. It is often cited in discussions relating to discrimination, bullying and harassment. The NARS found that approximately one in four women experienced sexual harassment in their legal workplace. More recent studies suggest that these rates may be even higher.

The Law Council believes that every person who works in the legal profession is entitled to feel safe and to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. Sexual harassment is both unlawful and entirely unacceptable.

You can read the full submission below. 

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