IBA, COL team up for online anti-harassment training

IBA, COL team up for online anti-harassment training

12 April 2021 By Jerome Doraisamy
Kieran Pender

The International Bar Association and The College of Law Australia have joined forces to produce a series of e-learning modules for legal institutions and individuals to better create safe, hospitable workplaces.

Nearly two years ago, IBA released its Us Too? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession report, which revealed that while Australian legal workplaces “are ahead of the international average” when it comes to hosting anti-bullying and sexual harassment training, rates of bullying and sexual harassment in Australia are “significantly higher than global averages”.

At the time, law societies and advocacy groups around Australia described the prevalence of bullying and sexual harassment in the Australian legal profession as “appalling”.

As part of IBA’s ongoing advocacy on such matters, it has teamed up with The College of Law Australia (COL Australia) in launching a range of e-learning modules, including more than a dozen videos, which are designed to assist legal workplaces and leaders in “making positive cultural changes”.

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The modules purport to reduce the prevalence of inappropriate behaviour and feature numerous prominent legal professionals, including but not limited to former prime minister Julia Gillard, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and Herbert Smith Freehills chief executive Justin D'Agostino.

Commenting on the new modules, Kieran Pender – who led the Us Too? campaign and was one of the developers of the training – said that effectively addressing prevalence and impact of inappropriate behaviour in law “requires a multifaceted strategy akin to a many-piece puzzle”.

“Training is one really important piece of that puzzle. The Us Too? report emphasised that ‘the profession should make a concerted effort to improve the frequency and quality of training to address bullying and sexual harassment’. Our intent in developing this training was to contribute to that collective effort,” he proclaimed.

COL content designer Niru Palanivel, who led the collaboration between the education provider and IBA, said she believes the training will make a difference.

“Inappropriate behaviour has no place in any profession, let alone a profession predicated on the highest ethical standards. We hope this training, by providing a range of data-backed insight, personal accounts and practical actions, can empower members of the legal profession to play their part in driving positive change,” she submitted.

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The modules are available online. IBA membership is not required to access the content.

Mr Pender recently appeared on The Lawyers Weekly Show to discuss the quantum of damages awarded to victims of sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct in the workplace. In that episode, he and ANU College of Law student Madeleine Castles argued for structural remedies to be implemented, whereby workplaces could be penalised for misconduct that occurs under their roofs.

IBA, COL team up for online anti-harassment training
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