Victims or witnesses of sexual harassment in legal workplaces will now have a safe and secure online space to disclose inappropriate behaviour, with the launch of a new online reporting platform.
The Law Society of NSW, in collaboration with the NSW Legal Services Commissioner and the NSW Bar Association, unveiled the platform known as Elker on 6 April, making it easier for victims of sexual harassment and bullying to make “safe, informal and, if desired, anonymous” reports .
As co-regulators of the profession, the organisations want those who experience harassment in the legal profession to feel secure and safe in reporting harassment and supported to recover.
President of the Law Society of NSW Joanne van der Plaat, NSW Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) John McKenzie and President of the NSW Bar Association Michael McHugh SC released a joint statement saying they are “committed to eliminating harassment and other inappropriate conduct in the legal profession”.
“Like many other industries and broader society, sexual harassment remains prevalent within the legal profession,” the statement said.
“While great inroads have been made in creating safe working environments, we recognise that doing more, especially when it comes to reporting, is vital.
“As Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said in the release of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s [email protected] inquiry in 2020 ‘there is the urgency for change. There is momentum for reform’.”
Reports on the platform, created by the OLSC, can be made 24/7 and is encrypted to the highest privacy standards. A chat function is also available to anyone who wants further information or a referral for personal assistance.
The OLSC will regularly review the data from the platform to inform targeted audits of law practices, without reference to alleged perpetrators or informants.