The trailblazing feminist behind Australia's sex discrimination lawssays she is deeply distressed by the "epidemic" of sexual harassment faced by working women today.
Former ACT senator Susan Ryan has called on women to stand together against sexual harassment and assault, urging senior staff to look out for their younger peers and hold powerful, predatory colleagues to account.
Ms Ryan, the first woman to hold a cabinet position in a Labor government, said she falsely believed that by introducing the pioneering Sex Discrimination Act 1984 that women would feel comfortable making complaints against badly behaved male colleagues.
"But of course we see that in many cases women haven't felt able to take redress and many men have not taken any notice of the fact that their actions are unlawful," the former Education Minister said.
"That's an area where I feel more than disappointed, deeply distressed that women are still battling things that they shouldn't have to battle."
According to the Human Rights Commission, one in five women and one in 20 men report experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.
Ms Ryan said she felt optimistic that the large number of women coming forward during campaigns like #metoo would compel change.
Men should accept responsibility by holding other men to account, she said.
"I think that's the positive of all this: that women are speaking out, they realise it's a cultural problem and not anything they did wrong, or any weakness they had that they couldn't stop it," Ms Ryan said.
"Women need to act collectively and support each other on these big issues."
The Australian National University awarded Ms Ryan an honorary doctorate on Friday for her contribution to the advancement of human rights.
Ms Ryan was an ACT senator from 1975 to 1988 and held senior portfolios in the Hawke government. She also introduced the landmark Affirmative Action Act 1986.
Most recently Australia's Age and Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Ryan said she was now a "freelance advocate" working for a better provision of affordable housing for older women.
She emphasised her strong belief in the importance of economic independence, pointing to education as a "game changer" for many people, including herself.
"I was lucky enough to get to university in days when women hardly went there but I think seize your educational opportunities, even when it's hard going, particularly if you start a family young or you're an older woman who thinks 'Oh, am I too old to go and do this degree' - no you're not," she said.
"I would say wherever you get the opportunity to get education, take it."