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Anna Cody, the Dean of Western Sydney University’s law school, and a long-time member of the Law Society of NSW, is the nation’s new Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

In announcing the appointment Federal Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said the new Commissioner “brings to the role a career in advocating for women and fighting discrimination.”

Cody was previously Director of the Kingsford Legal Centre and spent close to 20 years at the organisation. Her expertise includes clinical legal education, human rights, and discrimination law. She has been Dean of Western Sydney University’s law school since 2019.

She replaces Kate Jenkins, whose seven-year term in the role finished in April.

“Through her work in Community Legal Centres, on the Board of the Legal Aid Commission of NSW and her role now as Dean of the School of Law at Western Sydney University, Dr Cody has a deep understanding of the systemic discrimination Australian women still face,” Dreyfus said in a media release issued on 6 July.

“Dr Cody will also play a critical role in the Commission’s delivery of the Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report (2020) – some of the most significant workplace reform to be undertaken in a generation.”

The President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Rosalind Croucher said in a statement, “we are delighted to have someone of her calibre join the Commission to advance the work of gender equality and defend the rights of LGBTQIA+ people under the Sex Discrimination Act.”

Croucher added, “She has a distinguished career as an academic, as a lawyer specialising in discrimination and as a passionate advocate for human rights.

“Professor Cody’s extensive experience has brought her into contact with women and girls from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, including First Nations women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, women with disability and LGBTQIA+ women.”

President of the Law Society of NSW, Cassandra Banks, congratulated Dr Cody “on behalf of the solicitors of NSW.”

“The Law Society congratulates long time member Anna Cody on her appointment as Sex Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission,” Banks wrote on LinkedIn.

Throughout her career Cody has served on a number of boards, including Community Legal Centres Australia, the Legal Aid Commission NSW and Western Sydney University Early Learning. She was the winner of the Australian Human Rights Award (Law) in 2016.

Cody’s first day in the role will be Monday 4 September.