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Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling

Race Discrimination
Chin Tan at William Lee Address

The Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan has delivered the Annual William Lee address saying more work is needed to break the bamboo ceiling.

William Lee was the first Chinese Australian barrister to be admitted to the NSW Bar in 1938.

Speaking at the event, hosted by the Asian Australian Lawyers Association, Commissioner Chin Tan said there is a gross under representation of Asian Australians in the legal system.

“Asian Australians account for 9.6 percent of the Australian population, but only 3.1 percent of partners in law firms, 1.6 percent of barristers and 0.8 percent of the judiciary.

“Research shows that under representation impacts not only the individual, but in areas such as justice, it also has a community and systemic impact.

“A diverse workforce enables new and different ways of thinking and attracts and retains a broader talent pool. This increases the depth of cultural understanding allowing for a more thoughtful and tailored approach to the provision of legal services and the administration of the legal system. 

“More culturally diverse barristers and judges would demonstrate to culturally and linguistically diverse communities that they are recognised, valued and represented in the justice system, said Commissioner Tan.

Commissioner Tan said to break-through the Bamboo Ceiling, we need to consider the barriers in the way of Asian-Australians entering leadership roles.

He said it also requires a commitment by the legal community to recognise the value of diversity.

You can download Commissioner Tan’s speech here