'One in three' Australian parliament staff sexually harassed

'One in three' Australian parliament staff sexually harassed

Former government staffer Brittany Higgins speaks before protesters during a rally against sexual violence in Canberra on March 15, 2021.
Former government staffer Brittany Higgins speaks before protesters during a rally against sexual violence in Canberra on March 15, 2021.

SYDNEY: Sexual harassment and bullying are widespread in Australia's parliament, affecting both lawmakers and staff, a high-profile inquiry into the institution's "sexist culture" has found.

After a seven-month investigation, a government-backed report on Tuesday said one in three people currently working at parliament "have experienced some form of sexual harassment while working there".

That included 63% of the country's female parliamentarians.

"Aspiring male politicians who thought nothing of, in one case, picking you up, kissing you on the lips, lifting you up, touching you, pats on the bottom, comments about appearance, you know, the usual... the culture allowed it," said one of the report's 1,700 interviewees.

The report made 28 recommendations, including a formal statement of acknowledgement by political leaders, targets to increase gender diversity and "a proactive focus on safety and wellbeing".

It was launched amid widespread outrage at the alleged rape of parliamentary staffer Brittany Higgins inside a minister's office, after a night out with conservative Liberal Party colleagues.

Her allegations -- which are still before the court -- fuelled nationwide demonstrations and demands for reform.

Higgins on Tuesday welcomed the report and thanked "the many brave people who shared their stories which contributed to this review".

"I hope all sides of politics not only commit to but implement these recommendations in full," she said in a statement sent via the Australian National University, where she is now a visiting fellow.

Greens' Senator Sarah Hanson-Young described the report as a "damning expose of the sexist culture and harassment in politics".

"The statistics and comments are shocking, but for many women here they are not surprising and ring true to our own experiences," she said.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT (16)

Grim winter looms as wartime Ukraine braces for infrastructure attacks

KHARKIV, Ukraine: In an abandoned tower block damaged by Russian shelling in Ukraine's second city, Olga Kobzar plans to tough out winter for as long as she can without electricity, water and central heating by lighting the gas stove in her kitchen for warmth.

14:59

Red flags fly as Yom, Nan rivers at critical levels in Phichit

PHICHIT: The Yom and Nan rivers reached critical levels on Tuesday, with red flags flying at all bridges crossing the two rivers in this northern province.

14:55

Kanye West debuts 'White Lives Matter' shirt

After recently severing ties between apparel giants Adidas and Gap and his Yeezy sneaker line, controversial American rapper Kanye West held a surprise fashion show during Paris Fashion Week to debut his new collection, named Yzyszn9.

14:10