Sexual harassment pervasive in Australia’s Parliament, report shows

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Australia’s parliament is a hostile environment for women where sexual harassment is rampant, according to a significant report on its working conditions.

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Published on Tuesday by the Australian Human Rights Commission, 450-page report good noted that one in three people working in parliamentary workplaces has experienced some form of sexual harassment. Workers reported how men would kiss and love coworkers, ideas that women were routinely dismissed and crying was an accepted part of the job.

One person quoted, “Aspiring male politicians who thought nothing of, in one case, picking you up, kissing you on the lips, lifting you up, touching you, patting you on the bottom, making comments about appearance… Allowed it,” one person was quoted as saying. The report said anonymously.


A review conducted after a former employee went public with allegations of rape in Parliament House in 2019 found that women experienced both bullying and sexual harassment at a higher rate than men. It also found that 63 percent of female lawmakers have experienced sexual harassment more than their male counterparts, although it noted that the number was based on a small sample of respondents.

Former government employee Brittany Higgins alleged that she was raped by a colleague in a minister’s office in 2019.Saeed Khan / AFP – Getty Images

,[T]The MP sitting next to me bowed down. Even thinking that he wanted to tell me something, I bowed down. He grabbed me and put his tongue to my throat. Everyone else laughed. It was rebellious and abusive,” read another anonymous comment shared in the report.

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In addition to sexual harassment, 37 percent experienced some form of bullying at work. More than 1,700 people contributed to the report, which made 28 recommendations on how to create a safe workplace.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said in a press conference, “Women we spoke to reported that they felt ‘lucky’ when they didn’t directly experience sexual assault or sexual assault.”

“A worryingly low level of reporting indicates that speaking out is not safe. Only 11 percent of those who experienced sexual harassment in a parliamentary workplace reported their experience.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the figures in the report “horrifying and disturbing” and said his government would work with other political parties to address the issues raised.

Laura Dern praises ‘extraordinary bravery’ of women speaking out on sexual harassment

October 17, 201701:22

Hours after the report was released, senators accused other lawmakers of yelling and making dog noises at a female aide speaking in the chamber.

“I don’t think it’s fair, who is assigned today, there are growling and dog noises coming from this side of the room while a female member is on her feet in this space,” said Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young. in the Senate.

Later in the day, he carried out the incident on twitter,

“What’s wrong with these guys? They don’t get it,” she wrote.

There have been allegations of sexism in Australian politics before. Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard made headlines around the world in 2012 when she accused opposition leader Tony Abbott of misconduct and sexism.

“I will not be lectured by this man about sexism and misogyny,” Gillard said in a speech in Parliament. “If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”

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