The findings of the Judicial Conduct Panel into the conduct of a South Australian Magistrate send a strong message to those who are sexually harassed and those who harass them says Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Jodeen Carney.

The Office of the Equal Opportunity Commissioner undertook a report into sexual harassment in the legal profession which was released in April 2021.

Former Acting Commissioner, Steph Halliday, wrote in the report’s foreword:

“The recent shift in the national conversation was driven, in no small part, by the High Court’s statement…regarding its investigation into the conduct of former Justice Dyson Heydon. So began the groundswell of support for greater scrutiny of harassment across the legal profession.”

“The report revealed the nature and extent of harassment in the profession and made for some unpleasant, but important, reading,” Commissioner for Equal Opportunity Jodeen Carney said.

“For instance, 42% of the review’s survey respondents reported that they had experienced sexual or discriminatory harassment, one-third of whom experienced it more than once. There were numerous examples of the types of harassment.

“After the report was published, a legal practitioner contacted my office to confirm that one of the incidents referred to in the report involved a serving judicial officer. Subsequently, another came forward with further disclosures.

“They have been believed. This is the strong message that has been sent as a result of the JCP’s findings.

“As the then Judicial Conduct Commissioner, the Hon Ann Vanstone KC said in May 2021:

“The conduct of judicial officers - officers who sit in judgement on the conduct of others - should be beyond reproach.”

“The findings also send a strong message to perpetrators, especially those exploiting significant power imbalances with their victims, and make it clear that regardless of who you are, or what position you hold, sexual harassment is unlawful, unacceptable, and consequences will flow.

“I thank the brave women who came forward and encourage others who are subjected to sexual harassment or other discriminatory conduct to make reports using the various complaint pathways and support services available,” Ms Carney said.

The Review of harassment in the legal profession is available at on our website.