1 In 3 Parliament Staffers Report Sexual Harassment, Review Sparked By Brittany Higgins Finds

The review of parliamentary workplace culture has revealed that one in three employees have experienced sexual harassment while working in parliament, while more than half the people working in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces have experienced bullying.

The Australian Human Rights Commission review was sparked by the alleged rape of Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins and has made 28 recommendations, including stronger alcohol policies, better gender balance, better leadership and expanding reporting and support.

It also called for a new code of conduct, and for heads of departments to come together and write a joint statement of acknowledgement of the harm caused by workplace bullying, sexual harassment and assault, and a commitment to shared accountability.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins undertook the review in March, which comprises 492 interviews and more than 900 survey responses from current and former parliamentarians and parliament staffers.

“The experiences of Grace Tame, Brittany Higgins, Chanel Contos and others, as well as a national conversation about consent, have also prompted renewed calls in the Australian context for an end to gendered violence,” the report said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison released the report and said he wished he “found it more surprising” that 33 per cent of staffers reported sexual harassment.

He also said the highest office in the land had failed to set the proper standard or lead by example.

“Just because this is a challenging environment … this is no excuse to normalise inappropriate, unhealthy and unprofessional behaviour,” he said.

He also thanked Higgins, saying her voice had spoken for many.

When asked by journalists if he or anyone in parliament had reached out to Higgins, he said he was “always more than happy to meet with people should they wish to”.

He said the government had not waited for the findings to be released to take action and it was ready to respond to the recommendations.

“We now address these not from a standing start, but already underway, taking action together to respond to the very serious issues that have been highlighted.”