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By July 27, 2021SMOS

Labor welcomes the release of Stephanie Foster’s final report of the Review of the Parliamentary Workplace: Responding to Serious Incidents.

This is a positive interim step as we look forward to the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, completing her more comprehensive review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces and delivering her recommendations for change so that the Australian Parliament can model best practice for all employers.

Labor has always sought to work constructively with the Government and all members of the Parliament on these issues. Labor provided a number of suggestions to Ms Foster following the release of her consultation draft report and we are happy to see Ms Foster has adopted most of Labor’s recommendations.

Labor called for bullying and harassment training to be mandatory for all parliamentarians and we are pleased that Ms Foster has strengthened her recommendation on this issue.  It is important that the training package which is developed is comprehensive and fit for purpose and not simply a tick-a-box compliance exercise by the Government. Labor supports the implementation of a public register of successful completion of the training. A proposal recommending all Labor parliamentarians undertake mandatory training will be considered at FPLP Caucus next week.

Ms Foster has also taken up Labor’s recommendation that the complaints mechanism should be available to staff who have left employment since the 2019 election. It is often only after staff have left employment that they feel able to make such complaints. Restricting it to current staff would have allowed employers to avoid a complaint by terminating the employment of a potential complainant or coercing their resignation.

We note also that following Labor’s suggestion, Ms Foster has updated her recommendation on responses to serious incidents by the Department of Parliamentary Services. It is important that DPS and the AFP urgently review their practices and procedures to ensure they are appropriate in responding to serious incidents at Parliament House.

We look forward to Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins completing her more comprehensive review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces.  Our staff deserve nothing less than a completely safe and supportive workplace.