Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has welcomed the release of the Report on the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces and called on the Government to implement all 28 recommendations without delay.

The review by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins was sparked by the brave move by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins to go public with her experiences inside Parliament House, and widespread calls for change in parliamentary workplace culture.

The review found just over half of people in Commonwealth Parliamentary workplaces had experienced bullying, sexual harassment or attempted or actual sexual assault at work. Women experienced sexual harassment and bullying at higher rates than men, according to the report.

“The statistics and personal experiences in this report are shocking, but unfortunately for many in the building they won’t be surprised to read these things, they know them to be true,” Dr Haines said.

Dr Haines said the report’s focus on culture and leadership, as well as structural and systemic changes, was important to create long-lasting change.

“The principles of leadership; diversity, equality and inclusion; performance; accountability and safety and wellbeing are the building blocks to ensure parliamentary workplaces are safe places for everyone to come to work,” she said.

“Ever since I have come to Parliament I have argued for a code of conduct for parliamentarians and their staff, and the inclusion of a code of conduct, as well as an Independent Parliamentary Standards Commission are vital to improve standards in this place.”

“One year ago, I introduced the Commonwealth Parliamentary Standards Bill 2020 to the House of Representatives to establish a code of conduct for all Members of Parliament, and an independent Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to oversee its enforcement.”

“That code of conduct would enshrine the values we should all strive to live by in Parliament.”

“Right now, we only have the Ministerial Code of Conduct, which is overseen by the Prime Minister, not an independent authority, and rarely enforced. There are no standards at all for other MPs and others who work in Parliament.”

“The Government refused to debate my bill to establish a Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, with some Government MPs describing it as an affront to democracy at the time.”

“I am pleased to see this review recommend a code of conduct, and I call on the Government to support that recommendation in particular.”

Dr Haines said reforms to ensure better standards in the workplaces and better support for management of employees would help to bring employment practices in parliamentary workplaces in line with employment practices in other workplaces.

“After working as a nurse and midwife and as an academic, working outside politics, I was shocked by the lack of structure, guidance and management systems in place for the offices of Members of Parliament. I am glad to see that addressed in this report.”

Dr Haines committed to work with MPs from all parties to ensure the report was implemented in full.

“Australia is better served when the Parliament reflects the true diversity of our society. And for years the power imbalances, lack of accountability, entitlement and exclusion and gender inequality have meant this place has not reflected the community at all. Acting on this report will ensure we can work to becoming a more representative Parliament that people can be proud of.”

Read Electoral Legislation Amendment (Annual Disclosure Equality) Bill 2021