Addressing sexual harassment at work with Kate Jenkins

Date & time
6.30–7.45pm Wednesday 7 October 2020

Online via Zoom Webinar

Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner
ANU Law Marketing
Addressing Sexual Harassment at Work with Kate Jenkins

Proudly co-sponsored by ANU College of Law, The Global Institute for Women's Leadership and ANU Gender Institute

Australia has a sexual harassment problem. The Australian Human Rights Commission's 2018 national survey found that almost three-quarters of Australians had experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime – in any given year, one in five women will be sexually harassed in their workplace. The impact on human rights, dignity and workplace productivity is severe. The #MeToo movement and the recent reporting of sexual harassment findings against former High Court judge Dyson Heydon have underscored the immense challenges facing Australians in effectively addressing harassment.
In March, Australia's Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins released a groundbreaking report, Respect@Work, following the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces. The National Inquiry highlighted the endemic and pervasive nature of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. Jenkins found that the ‘current legal and regulatory system is simply no longer fit for purpose’ and outlined 55 recommendations to create a new regulatory framework to sexual harassment.
One profession that has sought in recent years to address the prevalence of workplace harassment has been the law. In 2019, the International Bar Association (IBA) published Us Too? Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession, based on a global survey of almost 7,000 lawyers. IBA Senior Legal Advisor and ANU College of Law Visiting Fellow Kieran Pender, the author of Us Too?, subsequently led a global engagement campaign with hundreds of events and thousands of stakeholder engagements in 30 cities across six continents.
Join us for a conversation between Kieran and Kate on how Australia and Australians can effectively address this scourge in our workplaces. The pair will discuss the Respect@Work recommendations, insight from their respective stakeholder consultation campaigns and practical steps organisations can take to promote positive change.
Australia's leading anti-discrimination law researcher, Emerita Professor Margaret Thornton FASSA, FAAL, will introduce the webinar and offer some opening remarks to provide context for the conversation. Kate and Kieran will then discuss their work, followed by a Q&A with the audience.


  • Kate Jenkins »

    Kate Jenkins became Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner in 2016. She is leading a number of projects at the Australian Human Rights Commission, including the National Inquiry into sexual harassment in Australian workplaces and the Commission’s collaborative project on cultural reform with the Australian Defence Force.

    Prior to joining the Commission, Kate spent three years as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner. In that role she held an Independent Review into Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment, including Predatory Behaviour, in Victoria Police. She was also the Co-Chair of the Victorian Commission’s Disability Reference Group and a member of the Aboriginal Justice Forum.

    Kate spent 20 years as lead equal opportunity partner with Herbert Smith Freehills and has served on the boards of Berry Street Victoria, Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Carlton Football Club.

    Kate was recognised in the 2015 AFR/Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards for her work in public policy.

  • Kieran Pender »

    Kieran Pender is a senior legal advisor with the International Bar Association (IBA) Legal Policy and Research Unit in London, and a Visiting Fellow at The Australian National University (ANU) Centre for International and Public Law. He is a graduate of the ANU, where he was awarded the university medal. Kieran frequently writes, speaks and publishes on public law and employment law issues. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Saturday Paper and Australian Book Review, and has appeared on ABC and BBC radio and television. Kieran has guest lectured at universities across four continents, and spoken at the United Nations, European Parliament, World Bank and OECD.

  • Emerita Professor Margaret Thornton FASSA, FAAL »

    Emerita Professor Margaret Thornton is a socio-legal and feminist scholar whose work on the legal academy and the legal profession is internationally recognised. She is regularly invited to participate in international projects.

    She has published extensively in the area of discrimination and the law. Her book The Liberal Promise (Oxford, 1990) remains the only critical study of discrimination law in Australia. Her book, Dissonance and Distrust (Oxford 1996) is the only study of women in the legal profession in Australia. It was translated into Mandarin and published in Beijing (Law Press, 2001).

    Margaret also has a particular interest in the impact of the corporatisation of universities on the legal academy and has conducted research in the UK, Canada and New Zealand, as well as Australia. Publications from this research include Privatising the Public University: The Case of Law (Routledge, 2012). Her current ARC-funded research focuses on work/life balance in corporate law firms, particularly the gendered effects of globalisation, competition and technology.

    Margaret’s scholarship has been acknowledged by election to the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, the invitation to be a Foundation Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law, and the award of an ARC Professorial Fellowship, in additional to international fellowships.

    Margaret formerly held the Richard McGarvie Chair of Socio-Legal studies at La Trobe University where she also served as Head of School, Director of Research and Professorial Member of University Council. She served the discipline of law as a member of the ARC and as Chair of the Federal Government Advisory Committee for the Gender Issues in the Law Curriculum Project, as well as occupying many other federal and State positions.

Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team