2 Minute Statements - Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces

01 December 2021

Yesterday Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins handed down her report into Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces, Set the standard. This report was born from the bravery of women who once shared our workplace and who started a much-needed movement for change. Its findings and recommendations are thanks to the participation of everyone who has worked in this building, past and present, and shared their personal experiences—some of them deeply traumatic—with the reviewers. The report noted the sense of pride that so many people in this building feel when they start work in this place. I know that feeling. I felt it first as a staffer and I still feel it as a senator.

Either as elected officials or as staff, we have the incredible privilege to serve in the heart of our democracy—to make a difference, to fight for a better nation, no matter what our vision for better may look like. But far too many who have held that privilege have been deeply failed by a toxic culture and by a workplace that hasn't been safe enough or respectful enough and hasn't supported them as it should. And it matters especially that it has happened here, because the people in this building set the standards for our nation. If this place can fail women, especially so badly, then is it any wonder that so many women around our nation feel unsafe or disrespected in their homes and communities?

Today I want to say to the staff in this building: you deserve to always feel a sense of pride for the work you do here. And, when you've decided to call time on your service here, you deserve to carry that pride fondly into the next phase of your life. This is an incredible institution. But as a workplace it has deeply failed too many who serve within it. It is unacceptable and it must change. With urgency, with depth and with the greatest ambition, I urge leadership in this space and action for those who deserve their concerns to be treated with the utmost seriousness and urgency.