Above the Law: new forms of accountability for sexual misconduct

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Join us for a discussion about gender, power, and finding a way through to a more ethical legal profession.

About this Event

Thank you to everyone who registered and thanks to those who submitted questions for the panel.

If you missed registration, you can also watch this event via livestream on the UNSW Law Facebook page.

What is it about the legal profession that has allowed sexual misconduct to go “unseen” for so long, and how do we use this moment to design safer systems?

In this webinar, we will break open the structures of the legal profession that insulate it from the regulatory eye.

We will explore how the evolution of the profession has allowed it to operate above the law and has enabled sexual misconduct to become an open secret.

Our discussion will focus on mechanisms for accountability, and how to initiate cultural change.

How can we better respond to the ongoing harms to people inside the profession from many forms of discrimination, including gender-based abuse?

Guest speakers:

Professor Andrea Durbach

Andrea Durbach is a Professor at UNSW Law where she was Director of the Australian Human Rights Centre (now Institute) from 2004-2017. Prior to her UNSW appointment, she was Director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.. Andrea has held senior positions in the human rights field, including as Deputy Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner (2011-2012) and as consultant to the Australian Defence Abuse Response Taskforce to develop a framework to address the needs of Defence Force victims of gender-based violence. Between 2015-17, she led the major research project, Strengthening Australian University Responses to Sexual Assault and Harassment, publishing the recommendations in the project reports, On Safe Ground and Local Perspectives in 2018.

Dr Kcasey McLoughlin

Kcasey McLoughlin is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Newcastle Law School and she is currently a visiting Scholar at the Australian Human Rights Institute (UNSW). Her research, broadly defined, concerns the gendered values that shape political and legal institutions and the extent to which law can be used as a tool for achieving equality.  Kcasey was awarded the Australian Political Studies Association Best PhD Prize for her doctoral thesis ‘Situating Women Judges on the High Court of Australia: Not just men in skirts?’ Her first book Women Judges and the Gender Order: Lessons from the High Court of Australia (Routledge forthcoming) further extends her research about the interaction between women, gender and difference in the judiciary.

Adrienne Morton

Adrienne Morton is President of Australian Women Lawyers (AWL), the peak national body representing women lawyers and the Immediate Past President of Tasmanian Women Lawyers. Adrienne uses her personal experience as a Chinese-Australian to promote diversity both in the law and the public sector. During her time with AWL she has built relationships with other women lawyer organisations across the Asia-Pacific region and as far away as Iceland. Adrienne is a Senior Legal Officer and Member of the Mental Health Tribunal (Tasmania) and has made a career in the public sector with a focus on public and commercial law. She has previously been a board member of Women’s Health Tasmania, a member of the Employment and Equal Opportunity committee of the Law Society of Tasmania and participated in the inaugural Asian Australian Leadership Summit in 2019.

Jane Needham SC

Jane Needham has been a barrister at the New South Wales Bar since 1990 and was appointed senior counsel in 2004. She has appeared in inquests, inquiries and royal commissions including representing large institutions in Royal Commissions into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Aged Care Quality and Services, and Disability. She was a Deputy President and Divisional Head of the Administrative Decisions Tribunal from 2002-2011. She was President of the NSW Bar Association from 2014-2015. During that time, she had a particular interest in improving access to flexible practice for barristers, including by way of supporting childcare places for NSW barristers and frameworks for flexible practice. She has also overseen the NSW Bar’s work on gender equality and anti-bullying and harassment programmes.


To discuss your access requirements, please email humanrights@unsw.edu.au

Presented by the Australian Human Rights Institute and UNSW Law.

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