Public Statement from the Chief Justice

6 July 2020

On 26 June 2020, together with other heads of jurisdiction of federal courts and tribunals, I issued a public statement concerning sexual harassment. Its terms were as follows:

As heads of jurisdiction of courts and tribunals of the Commonwealth of Australia, we wish to make certain things clear in similar terms as heads of jurisdiction in Western Australia did earlier this week.

We are committed to ensuring a safe working environment for all staff. That commitment requires us to ensure that our staff are not subject to any form of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Sexual harassment in any workplace is unlawful and wholly unacceptable. It is also contrary to the demands of justice that judicial officers are sworn to uphold. For that reason any form of sexual harassment by a judicial officer is not only reprehensible, but a breach of the public trust.

Our courts and tribunals are taking steps to review their existing policies and procedures concerning this issue, and to ensure that they are effectively and clearly understood by staff. It is essential that all staff have the confidence that they are able to raise any concerns or complaints that they may have in the workplace and that those concerns or complaints will be properly addressed.

The Court is undertaking a thorough review of its protocols and procedures that relate to workplace conduct and harassment, including sexual harassment.

This review has been commenced and involves: a review and evaluation of all existing policies and procedures, including induction programmes; a staff survey; meetings of staff and associates; the engagement of external consultants to assist with staff meetings and information sessions and the above review of policies and procedures; and a judicial advisory committee.

The review will incorporate as appropriate initiatives of other courts and institutions such as the recommendations announced by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. 

Chief Justice Allsop
6 July 2020