Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 20, 2024


Review of Harassment in the South Australian Legal Profession

The Hon. M. EL DANNAWI (14:45): My question is to the Attorney-General. Will the Attorney inform the council about the review recently commissioned to evaluate the progress made by South Australia's legal profession in tackling bullying and harassment?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:46): I thank the honourable member for the question. I would be most happy to provide an update to the chamber.

In 2021, a review was undertaken by then Acting Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Ms Steph Halliday, which found that, sadly, discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying were all too prevalent in South Australia's legal profession. The review made 16 recommendations to improve both organisational and workplace culture within the profession. The progress made in those 16 recommendations is what will be evaluated in this review, with a focus on the effectiveness of the laws, policies, structures and complaint mechanisms for harassment and bullying.

Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Jodeen Carney and Assistant Commissioner Colin Marsh have been commissioned to undertake the review work, with Assistant Commissioner Marsh having previously worked on the 2021 review. As part of this review, feedback is being sought from both people who practise the law and people who work, or who have worked, in a workplace that provides legal services over the past three years.

I encourage all those eligible to take part in this review, either through an online survey that can be found through the Equal Opportunity SA website or by providing a written submission to Legal Review@sa.gov.au by Sunday 31 March 2024. Participants are reassured that all responses will be kept confidential.

I would like to thank all those who were instrumental in the 2021 review, including those who worked in the profession and told their stories as well as the people who are about to undertake important work and participate in the current review process. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Hon. Connie Bonaros for her work in first kicking off the 2021 review several years ago, and give her acknowledgement. As I was recently quoted on social media on the matter:

I would be remiss of me not to thank Connie Bonaros for kicking off the 2021 review of harassment within the legal profession. It wouldn't have been done without you Connie! You are a star!

Again, I thank both the commissioner and the assistant commissioner in advance for undertaking this important work and look forward to seeing the outcome of the progress made in the safety of the legal profession. I strongly encourage those eligible to take part in this review to ensure that our state's legal profession is a safe and fair place to be employed.