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Statement from Senator Sarah Hanson-Young following the judgment handed down in the Federal Court by Justice White

Media Release
Sarah Hanson-Young 25 Nov 2019

I am pleased with the Court’s decision today.


When men do the wrong thing, they should apologise. Most men do. But when they don’t, they should be called out.


Taking legal action was a hard decision to make, and one that could not have happened without the immense support from regular everyday Australians who want better treatment and respect for women in our workplaces, our homes and our community. 


All I ever wanted was for Mr. Leyonhjelm to apologise for his hurtful remarks and bad behaviour. He refused.


The Court’s decision today has vindicated my decision to stand up and call it out.


Justice White found that the defences that Mr Leyonhjelm attempted failed. I was awarded substantial damages by the way of vindication, which I will donate to charity. The Court accepted that aspects of Mr Leyonhjelm’s conduct warranted an order for aggravated damages. The court found that Mr Leyonhjelm was actuated by malice with the intention of publicly shaming me.


No woman deserves to be bullied and harassed in her workplace - not on the shop floor, in the office, in the factory or in the Parliament. 


Not all women are able to stand up to the men that bully and harass them. As a Member of Parliament I am in a privileged position, and with privilege comes a responsibility to act for others. This is why I will be donating the money raised from this case to two important organisations that fight for women and girls every day. Plan International and the Working Women’s Centre in South Australia; two organisations that work at the coalface of inequality and discrimination.


Calling out bad behaviour and holding those who harass and belittle women to account is essential for society if we are to achieve true equality.


I took this action because my daughter and her peers deserve to grow up in a society where women, young and old, married or single, rich or poor are treated with respect, free of discrimination, harassment and sexist slurs.    


Our nation’s Parliament is an important and revered institution; it should set the standard of appropriate behaviour and model values of respect and equality for all.  


Bullies must be taken on and held to account, no matter where they work or what privileges their title brings. 


I would like to thank everyone who has donated to help this legal case happen.  And to the many women, girls and decent men who have shared their stories of hurt, pain and hope with me, thank you for your support, trust and encouragement. 


It is for every woman and girl who has been told to or made to stay silent in the face of harassment and disrespect that I have taken this legal action. Today’s ruling is a win for them.   


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