Legislative Council: Thursday, March 21, 2024


Review of Harassment in the South Australian Legal Profession

The Hon. C. BONAROS (14:36): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Attorney-General a question about the Equal Opportunity Commission's report into the legal profession.

Leave granted.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: In 2021, the Equal Opportunity Commission released a damning report into an inquiry into the legal profession involving harassment and sexual harassment. As a result of that, some of the findings included things like misogynist and sexist harassing behaviours, particularly against women, being rampant within the legal sector from both judicial officers and counsel. That was just one of the findings amongst a number, and also a number of recommendations that were made. My question to the Attorney is: could he please provide the chamber with an update on the progress of the current follow-up review to that initial inquiry in 2021?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:37): I thank the honourable member for her question. I thank her for her involvement in this area and her representations and activism, which I think in no small part played a role in the 2021 report of the review of harassment in the legal profession. The honourable member quoted me on her social media as thanking her, so I appreciate that as well.

In terms of the review currently being undertaken by the equal opportunity commissioner's office, I am informed that eligible participants in the review include lawyers, support staff, students and other people involved in the legal profession over the last three years since the report was handed down. I am informed that to take part there is a short survey that can be accessed on South Australia's Equal Opportunity Commission's website, which closes at midnight on Sunday 31 March 2024.

I encourage people to avail themselves of the opportunity of taking the survey, because each response is important to inform the review of the progress that has been made and what more needs to be done to ensure the legal profession is a safe and inclusive workplace.