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Sexual Harassment Widespread In Parliament House According To Review

Sexual harassment widespread in Parliament House according to review

Sexual harassment is widespread in Parliament house, according to a recent review.

One in eight political staffers reported experiencing sexual harassment while working at Parliament House, Nine Newspapers reports.

However, more than half said they feared risking their career if they reported the workplace misconduct.

Sexual harassment widespread in Parliament House

In November, the Finance Department commenced a review of both sexual harassment and bullying policies at Parliament House.

To help the review, the Commonwealth Public Sector Union surveyed almost 100 political staffers in December.

One in eight reported experiencing sexual harassment or assault in the workplace in the past year.

In addition, more than half had witnessed bullying or harassment in the past year and two in five had experienced it themselves.

No faith in Department of Finance

Disturbingly, more than three-quarters of staffers surveyed believe the Department of Finance will not support them if they reported serious workplace incidents.

CPSU national secretary Melissa Donnelly accused the Department of Finance of taking “almost no action”.

This is despite the union repeatedly raising harassment and also bullying issues during workplace health and safety meetings.

“The environments that MoPs [Member of Parliament] staff work in are complex, staff often feel that reporting incidents will go nowhere and would have detrimental effects on their career prospects,” she said.

“The clunky and opaque reporting structures provide little support or confidence to staff that complaints will be followed up appropriately.”

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Rape allegations

Prime Minister Scott Morrison claims he had no knowledge of rape allegations made by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins.

The alleged rape happened in a ministerial office in March 2019.

Morrison threw Defence Minister Linda Reynolds ‘under the bus’ this week, blaming her in Question Time for failing to provide him with details of the incident.

“That is something that I wish she [Senator Reynolds] had done, but she did not,” Morrison said.

“Her reasons for doing that were to protect Brittany Higgins’ privacy… People may form different views on whether that was a wise decision.”

Independent review

Morrison has subsequently announced an independent review into the workplace culture at Parliament House and in electorate offices.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham is still finalising the inquiry’s terms of reference.

However, he said it will cover the workplaces of federal parliamentarians and their staff including electorate offices and Federal Parliament.

“It’s expected the review will focus on ensuring the right support mechanisms and advice are available to ensure these workplaces are safe and respectful,” he said.

“Being an independent review, it will be able to make findings and recommendations where appropriate on any relevant matters that arise during the inquiry.”

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