Australian parliament wide-ranging allegations of misconduct: One in three workers sexually harassed, says report

Former political staffer Brittany Higgins inspired others to come forward with allegations

Former political staffer Brittany Higgins inspired others to come forward with allegations

A third of employees in Australia’s federal parliament have been allegedly sexually harassed, a landmark report has found.

The announcement was commissioned following a former staffer, Brittany Higgins, who said she had been raped by a colleague in a minister’s office.

Her narrative earlier this year activated a wave of widespread allegations of improper behavior in Canberra.

The victims were out of proportion women, said Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner.

The report, titled Set the Standard, discovered 51% of staffers had suffered some form of oppression, sexual harassment or real or attempted sexual assault.

“Such experiences leave a trail of devastation for individuals and their teams and undermine the performance of our parliament to the nation’s detriments,”

said Ms Jenkins, the report’s author.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison recounted the conclusions as “appalling”, adding:

“I wish I found it more surprising”.

Mr Morrison has formerly been faulted of being “tone deaf” on issues out of proportion affecting women in parliament.

The analysis, tabled in federal parliament on Tuesday, talked to 1,723 people and 33 organisations.

It discovered 63% of female parliamentarians had encountered sexual harassment – surprisingly higher percentage than for political staffers.

One anonymous MP told the review:

“Aspiring male politicians who thought nothing of, in one case, picking you up, kissing you on the lips, lifting you up, touching you, pats on the bottom, comments about appearance, you know, the usual. The point I make with that … [w]as the culture allowed it, encouraged it.”

The report made suggestions which includes improving leadership and gender balances, and lessening a culture of alcohol.

Ms Higgins said she urged MPs across the political divide to

“implement these recommendations in full”.

“I want to thank the many brave people who shared their stories, which contributed to this review,”

she said.


Related Topics

Sexual harassment,     Australia

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