“A man’s world.”
“The most sexist workplace.”
“A place women feel lucky if they weren’t sexually harassed.”
These are just some of the responses from those who have worked in Parliament House, painting a damning picture of what it means to work in Federal parliament.
On Tuesday, a report into Parliament House’s workplace culture was released as part of a review by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.
The review was sparked by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins going public in February with her story, alleging she was raped in 2019 by a colleague in a minister’s office.
The details to come out of the report are shocking, including the stat that one third of people working in Parliament House and Federal politician’s offices reported being sexually harassed on the job. Only 11 per cent reported it.
Here is everything we know about the report and the reaction to it.
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Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins handed down the report on Tuesday and made 28 recommendations, to be enforced by an Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission.
“Women we spoke to told us they felt lucky when they had not directly experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault,” Commissioner Jenkins said at a press conference.
“Many people shared distressing experiences of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault, sometimes for the first time. They said these things could never be shared with anyone else.”
Some of the recommendations in the report include:
Presiding Officers should convene party leaders and the heads of the parliamentary department to come together and agree upon a joint Statement of Acknowledgement to the parliament.
Politicians should consider boosting female participation targets.
Greater limitations on alcohol consumption in Parliament House and while working.
Parliamentary party leaders should lead and champion a 10-year strategy based upon advancing gender equality, diversity and inclusion.
Senior Members of Parliament should regularly engage in discussions to set expectations of conduct and create a safe reporting culture.
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Current and former politicians and staffers were among 1723 people, the majority of them women, who contributed to the review. Nearly 500 further interviews were conducted.
The report found three quarters of people in commonwealth parliamentary workplaces had either experienced, witnessed or heard about inappropriate behaviour, including bullying and actual/attempted sexual harassment or assault.