New South Wales Senator Helen Coonan has vowed to fight discrimination by giving more government legal work to women.
The pledge follows a survey of female barristers in Victoria revealed that female barristers were only involved in 13.8 per cent of court appearances, despite making up 18.6 per cent of the total number of barristers.
Speaking to the Women Lawyers’ Association of New South Wales, Coonan, the minister for revenue and assistant treasurer, said she would be prepared to introduce an equitable briefing policy within her government departments to promote the use of female barristers.
Coonan advised the Women Lawyers Association, the Law Society of New South Wales and the Bar Association to develop the infrastructure for a workable model to promote the visibility of women at the bar and to promote some transparency in briefing patterns.
“If you do this at the Commonwealth Government level,” Coonan told her audience, “I will promote the adoption of an appropriate equitable briefing policy within the departments and agencies for which I have ministerial responsibility.” She also vowed to raise the plan with the Attorney-General and other ministers whose departments were prolific sources of work.
Coonan’s calls come after a recent survey in Victoria.