AN independent review into parliamentary workplace culture has found sexual harassment and bullying to be part of “normalised” misconduct, with one interviewee describing “aspiring male politicians who thought nothing of … picking you up (and) kissing you on the lips”.In parliament one in three staffers have experienced sexual harassment, report finds – The Catholic Leader
AN independent review into parliamentary workplace culture has found sexual harassment and bullying to be part of “normalised” misconduct, with one interviewee describing “aspiring male politicians who thought nothing of … picking you up (and) kissing you on the lips”.
The review by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins found one in three (33 per cent) people currently working inside the federal parliament had experienced some form of sexual harassment while working there.
Ms Jenkins has made 28 recommendations for reform including a call for parliamentary leaders and department heads make a public statement acknowledging the harm caused by bullying, and sexual harassment and assault.
The review was triggered by the alleged rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins who today welcomed the findings.
“I want to thank the many brave people who shared their stories, which contributed to this review,’’ she said in a statement.
“I hope all sides of politics not only commit to but implement these recommendations in full.”
The review found some “individuals responsible for misconduct are an ‘open secret’ that ‘everyone knows’ about, but nobody does anything to address”.
It also found a “culture of misconduct being normalised and of people being unwilling to intervene or speak out” existed across parliament.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he found the details in the report “appalling and disturbing”.
“I wish I found them more surprising,” Mr Morrison said.
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“This report goes to the root causes we have had to address in our workplaces.”
Ms Jenkins said a “bucketload” of risk factors have made Parliament a “unique” place for workplace harassment.
“It’s more risk factors than exist in many corporate workplaces,” she said.
Ms Jenkins said unclear or inconsistent standards also made it difficult – most bosses in Parliament are elected members rather than appointed managers, which complicates dealing with harassment.
“Their focus is absolutely on their job on parliamentarians,” Ms Jenkins said.
She said the workplace dynamics of fear, loyalty and politics make things worse.
More than 1700 people and 33 organisations contributed to the inquiry that conducted 490 interviews.
One person told the report: “(T)he MP sitting beside me leaned over. Also thinking he wanted to tell me something, I leaned in. He grabbed me and stuck his tongue down my throat. The others all laughed. It was revolting and humiliating.”
Another participant told the Commission a parliamentarian both sexually harassed and sexually assaulted her.
“(He) actually put his hand up my skirt and tried to kiss me at that party. And it was quite disgusting,” she said, according to the report.