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Law school dean named as new sex discrimination commissioner

The dean of the School of Law at Western Sydney University has been appointed as the new sex discrimination commissioner, assuming the role recently vacated by Kate Jenkins.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 06 July 2023 Politics
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Dr Anna Cody, who currently serves as the dean of the School of Law at Western Sydney University — a role she has held since 2019 — is set to become the nation’s new sex discrimination commissioner, having been appointed by the Albanese government.

Prior to her appointment as dean, Dr Cody served as the director of the Kingsford Legal Centre in Sydney (where she has also been a senior solicitor), was a program coordinator at Caritas Australia and for the Centre for Economic and Social Rights, and has served on various boards, including for Community Legal Centres Australia, the Legal Aid Commission NSW, and Western Sydney University Early Learning.

Outgoing sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins — who spoke on The Lawyers Weekly Show in late 2020 about workplace sexual harassment in the legal profession — congratulated Dr Cody on Twitter, calling her an “exceptional appointment”.

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In a statement, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said that Dr Cody has a “deep understanding of the systemic discrimination Australian women still face” and “brings to the role a career in advocating for women and fighting discrimination”.

In her new role, the A-G said, she will promote and advance the rights of Australians by tackling discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex status, and all other protected attributes in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

Dr Cody will also play a critical role in the commission’s delivery of the Respect@Work report — “some of the most significant workplace reform to be undertaken in a generation”, A-G Dreyfus noted.

“I congratulate Dr Cody on her appointment and thank her for taking on this important role,” he said.

The appointment was made, the A-G’s Department noted, following a merit-based selection process.

Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher, who is the president of the Human Rights Commission, welcomed the appointment of Dr Cody.

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

“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.

“She will also play a pivotal role in implementing the significant Respect at Work reforms to prevent workplace sexual harassment.

“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.

Dr Cody will commence in the role on 4 September 2023.

Jerome Doraisamy

Jerome Doraisamy

Jerome Doraisamy is the editor of Lawyers Weekly. A former lawyer, he has worked at Momentum Media as a journalist on Lawyers Weekly since February 2018, and has served as editor since March 2022. He is also the host of all five shows under The Lawyers Weekly Podcast Network, and has overseen the brand's audio medium growth from 4,000 downloads per month to over 60,000 downloads per month, making The Lawyers Weekly Show the most popular industry-specific podcast in Australia. Jerome is also the author of The Wellness Doctrines book series, an admitted solicitor in NSW, and a board director of Minds Count.

You can email Jerome at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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