One in three parliamentary staffers have been sexually harassed: Report
- The review aims to ensure that parliamentary workplaces are safe and respectful
- The scope and depth of the problem inside the people's house were revealed in Jenkins' report
- The findings of the report are based on concerns that the workplace is not a safe place to work
An extensive independent report into the workplace culture at Parliament House indicated that one in every three parliamentary staffers has experienced sexual harassment. Former political staffer Brittany Higgins raised concerns about the report, which was conducted by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and released on Tuesday. The review aims to ensure that parliamentary workplaces are safe and respectful, which Ms Jenkins believes it has fallen short of.
"As one of the country's most prominent workplaces, it should set the standard for others and be something that Australians look to with pride," she told reporters.
The scope and depth of the problem inside the people's house were revealed in Jenkins' report. "Parliament is inherently about power," she said.
"We heard that power imbalances and the misuse of power is one of the primary drivers of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault."
The report made a number of recommendations including calling for a statement to the parliament acknowledging the “bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces and a commitment to action and shared accountability”.
All parties should push for gender parity in the workplace, the creation of a new code of conduct for MPs and their staff, and enforcement by an Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission, according to the report.
The findings of the report are based on concerns that the workplace is not a safe place to work because of systemic concerns about "gender inequality and exclusion, as well as a lack of accountability."
“Such experiences leave a trail of devastation for individuals and their teams and undermine the performance of our parliament to the nation’s detriment,” the report reads.
Following the report's release, Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke to reporters in Canberra, saying he was committed to implementing its recommendations.
"We all share in the ownership of problems set out in this report - but we all share in implementing the solutions," he said.
The report looked into allegations of bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault in parliamentary offices.
There were 1,723 people, mostly women, who contributed to the review, which included nearly 500 interviews with current and former politicians and staffers.
"Many people shared distressing experiences of bullying sexual harassment and sexual assault," Ms Jenkins said.
"They said these things could never be shared with anyone else."
More than half (51%) of those polled in the study had been the victim of bullying, sexual harassment, or actual or attempted sexual assault at least once.
This included women experiencing sexual harassment at a higher rate (40%) than men in these workplaces (26 per cent).
Only 11% of respondents, or one in ten, said they had been sexually harassed.
The 40% of people who did not file a complaint said they did so because they didn't think anything would change or be done. In comparison to male parliamentarians, more female parliamentarians (63%) had experienced sexual harassment (24 per cent).