A Grim Investigation Into NSW Parliament’s Culture Has Uncovered Bullying & Sexual Harassment

A damning new report into bullying, sexual harassment and misconduct has made some absolutely harrowing findings about the culture in NSW Parliamentary workplaces.

The Broderick report was published on August 12. It was led by former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick.

For the report, 447 people (just over a quarter of NSW Parliamentary workers) completed an online survey. 58 confidential written submissions were included plus over 100 one-on-one interviews and seven confidential group listening sessions took place.

The findings? A bunch of extremely concerning stuff, including allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

According to the report, bullying is “a significant issue across parliamentary workplaces”. Meanwhile everyday sexism and sexual harassment occur at “unacceptable rates”. Great.

The report also found the impact of sexual harassment and bullying was “heightened” for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

To break some of those findings down into numbers: a third of NSW Parliamentary workers said they’d experienced either bullying or sexual harassment in some form over the last five years. It was primarily MPs, then MP’s or Special Office Holder’s staff who reported those experiences.

One anonymous participant in the review said some of the views in NSW Parliament were “like going back 50 years”.

“As a woman it doesn’t make me feel very good but for other groups – like gay or trans people – it’s very upsetting and isolating,” they continued. 

A massive one in five people who work in a NSW Parliamentary workplace said they’d experienced sexual harassment at some point in the last five years. And almost half of the people behind that alleged harassment? Members of NSW Parliament.

Yep, you read that right. 41 per cent of alleged sexual harassment incidents were by MPs, according to the report.

One of the other significant — and distressing — insights was about sexual assault. Five people, a mix of men and women, said they’d experienced sexual assault, or an attempted sexual assault. People with diverse sexualities were overrepresented in that group.

If you want to read the whole report, you can here. It’s harrowing but important stuff.

NSW pollies have since responded to the Broderick report.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said NSW Parliament’s culture had “become, in many instances, toxic ” as per 9News.

“[I] want to thank every single person who has participated as part of this review and had the courage to come forward to tell their stories so change can occur.”

Jenny Leong, Greens MP for Newtown, said in a Twitter thread that none of the findings surprised her.

“Parliament is a toxic, sexist and at many times unsafe workplace — nobody inside the institution needed this report to know this,” she said.

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said the report reflected poorly on all parties.

“It’s my view that neither side, or any side in politics, comes to this issue with clean hands,” Minns said per The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We all need to do better, reach across the aisle and make sure that we’re making every possible effort to make the NSW Parliament a safe workplace.

The Broderick report concluded that there was, hopefully, an opportunity to change NSW Parliament’s fucked culture.

The Review revealed strong and consistent themes around the prevalence of these behaviours in the NSW Parliament, indicating a need for concerted attention, as a priority,” it said.

“Just as importantly, the Review revealed strong support for this change work to occur, to make the reforms achievable and sustainable, and have high impact.”

Fingers crossed that change happens as soon as possible.

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.