By Tamsin Brown •
Published: 02 Dec 2021 • 10:41
A study has revealed that 1in 3 workers at the Australian Parliament has experienced sexual harassment at work.
According to the report presented this week at the Australian Parliament, female workers experience sexual harassment such as inappropriate staring, unwanted touching or comments about their physical appearance on a daily basis.
The study was commissioned by the Executive Council in March, not long after the former political advisor Brittany Higgins alleged that she had been raped in a government office in 2019 by a fellow Liberal Party advisor. Her case shook the country and sparked a wave of protests.
Seven months later, the data gathered from more than 1,700 workers in an investigation initiated by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, has revealed something alarming: almost 40% have experienced bullying at work, one in three have suffered some form of sexual harassment, and 1% have been victims of sexual assault.
The report paints a picture of a toxic work environment caused by power imbalances between the members of Parliament and their staff. In an environment where the boundaries between private life and work life are blurred, harassment has become the norm and the perpetrators go unpunished. According to the report, 84% of the victims did not report the problem and did not seek support.
“I was sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, intimidated and terrorised,” stated one worker anonymously. “They said that if I looked for help or spoke about what had happened to me, my professional reputation and my personal life would be destroyed.”
The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has described the findings as “appalling”. The report gives 28 recommendations for improving the situation, such as more equality and changes in the working hours. Morrison has said that the Executive Council will review them, but he has not promised anything.
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Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news.
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