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OLSC, NSW Law Society and NSW Bar launch online reporting platform

The co-regulators of the Premier State’s legal profession have teamed up to better support those looking to report and recover from harassment experienced in the workplace.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 11 April 2022 Big Law
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In a joint statement issued late last week, NSW Legal Services Commissioner John McKenzie, Law Society of NSW president Joanne van der Plaat and NSW Bar Association president Michael McHugh SC pledged their commitment to eliminating harassment and other inappropriate conduct in the legal profession.

“There is urgency for change [and] there is momentum for reform”, the trio noted, cribbing from sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2020 Respect@Work inquiry.

“While great inroads have been made in creating safe working environments, we recognise that doing more, especially when it comes to reporting, is vital. We want those who experience harassment in the legal profession to feel secure and safe in reporting harassment and supported to recover,” the trio noted.


“That is why we are jointly launching an online reporting platform to make it easier to make safe, informal and, if desired, anonymous reports of instances of harassment and bullying. This platform is easily reached via live links on both professional bodies’ websites.”

The online reporting platform, “encrypted to the highest privacy standards”, said commissioner McKenzie, Ms van der Plaat and Mr McHugh, will facilitate informal disclosures that can be made anytime 24/7, including anonymously.

Only the OLSC will have access to the data reported on the platform and will have a team of trained professionals to manage such disclosures.

“They can respond by way of encrypted chat to anyone who desires more information or a suitable referral for personal assistance,” the trio said.

“The OLSC will regularly review the data received from the informal disclosures to inform targeted audits of law practices, without reference to alleged perpetrators or informants. Transparency drives reform. Increasing the breadth of data will facilitate better directed interventions to more effectively deal with harassment and improve the workplace cultures where such behaviour persists.”

Such audits will concentrate not only on policies to counteract sexual harassment, commissioner McKenzie, Ms van der Plaat and Mr McHugh added, but also on the procedures and personnel who are designated as confidential receivers of notifications. The audits, they said, will also examine the history of the outcomes of complaints in the practice.

“Of course, if a formal complaint is initiated the usual processes under the Uniform Law to ensure procedural fairness to both parties will apply,” the trio noted.

“Our paramount objective is clear: that those experiencing harassment are given a safe avenue for disclosure, with their welfare at the centre. This new reporting platform is an important next step in ensuring we as a legal profession support them.”