How to make a complaint about sexual harassment
Our Sexual Harassment Complaints team have specialised training in managing sexual harassment complaints. You can make a formal complaint, which is managed by the team via our regular complaints process, or you can provide an informal report or information anonymously.
If you are not sure which pathway is right for you, you can speak to our sexual harassment complaints specialists to understand more about the process before deciding whether to make a formal complaint.
To make a complaint to the VLSB+C:
- call us on (03) 9679 8001 and ask to talk to a member of the Sexual Harassment Complaints Team, or
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- log a report using our online reporting tool (click on button below)
Find out more about each of the reporting pathways below:
Sexual harassment by lawyers can constitute professional misconduct.
We take all complaints about sexual harassment seriously. To make a formal complaint, you will need to provide your name and contact details and your complaint will be recorded in writing. If the complaint proceeds to an investigation we will be required to provide your name, along with information about the complaint, to the person we are investigating. This is so they can respond to the complaint. You can find out more about how our complaints process works here.
You can also contact us if you believe that a Victorian legal practice has failed to take reasonable steps to respond to sexual harassment.
If you have experienced or witnessed sexual harassment but do not want to make a formal complaint you can contact us informally and anonymously via phone, email or using the reporting tool below. We will not be able to investigate your specific incident, however we will be able to track and monitor incidents and identify potential ‘hot spots’ of harassment. Where we identify a ‘hot spot’ we can undertake a targeted compliance audit to assess how a firm is being managed and supervised.
Online Reporting tool
If you do not feel comfortable emailing or calling us, you can log a report using our online reporting tool. Your report will go directly to the Sexual Harassment Complaints handling team. The tool is designed to make reporting incidents of harassment easier for you. Some key benefits are:
- You can remain anonymous throughout this process or provide contact details if you wish (you can also switch from one to the other as you please before submitting your report).
- There is a ‘quick exit’ button within the reporting tool that you can click to quickly leave the site if you are concerned about someone looking over your shoulder.
- A list of support services is provided if you need assistance or support.
- You can skip any questions to submit your report at any time.
- You can select whether you want to be contacted or not, and your preferred method of communication.
- Anyone can make a report; either the person who experienced the harassment or a third party or witness.
- There is a free text area where you can tell your story in your own words. You can provide as much or as little detail as you feel comfortable.
- If you are not sure what to write, there are some helpful prompts to assist you.You can upload supporting documents and evidence directly into the system.
- You maintain control over how the matter progresses.
Complaint case study
Amy is a junior solicitor at a law practice. She called to discuss her experience of sexual harassment perpetrated by a male barrister who the law practice regularly briefs. The behaviour involved discussions about his sex life, persistent invites to after work drinks with a sexual connotation, and inappropriate physical contact.
Amy has not only been the recipient of the behaviour but has also witnessed it against others. When she raised the behaviour with one of the managing partners, his response was to remove the file from her and allocate it to a male solicitor. One of the female partners is aware of the barrister’s behaviour so refuses to brief him but the law practice continues to do so.
Amy is fearful to report the behaviour formally, as she is concerned about her reputation and the effect it may have on her career. Our complaints team is able to explain options to Amy. The information is also helpful for the VLSB+C to understand instances of harassment, trends in conduct and how to better direct education and training.
Assistance and support
If any of the above has caused you distress please reach out for assistance or support by contacting:
- 1800RESPECT - 1800 737 732 (24 hours, 7 days a week)
- Lifeline - 13 11 14 (24 hours, 7 days a week)
- Beyond Blue - 1300 22 4636 (24 hours, 7 days a week)
- Victorian Bar funds two independent counselling services to members and their families
- Law Institute Victoria member counselling service.