Sexual harassment, widespread bullying exposed in NSW parliament

Sexual harassment, widespread bullying exposed in NSW parliament

“Parliamentary workplaces are losing smart, talented and passionate individuals due to these behaviours.”

Almost 500 people – 27.7 per cent of the parliamentary workforce – participated in the online review. More than 100 gave confidential one-on-one interviews and seven confidential group sessions were conducted. It also received 58 confidential written submissions.

Many participants described the effect of the bullying and sexual harassment on their mental health and their careers as “devastating”.

The briefings to MPs have indicated recommendations could include measures to reduce working hours and conditions that exacerbate risk.

Such measures could include reviewing offices with few employees and late-night sittings, updating alcohol policies to address accessibility and consumption, and making workplace safety training mandatory.

The report is expected to recommend NSW Police provide training to security staff and special constables, targeting early intervention and crisis management.

It could also suggest a review of rules under which an MP can be investigated for breaching the code of conduct.

Premier Dominic Perrottet referenced the Broderick report earlier this month after sacking Eleni Petinos from cabinet amid serious bullying accusations against her. She denies the accusations.

The premier said the Broderick review highlighted the need to act swiftly on complaints of misconduct to ensure people feel safe at work.

It follows an earlier review of NSW ministerial offices by former sex discrimination commissioner and former minister Pru ​​Goward, commissioned by former premier Gladys Berejiklian.

All MPs and staff employed at parliament within the past five years were invited to participate voluntarily in the Broderick investigation.


Further recommendations are expected to include creating an independent body to investigate reports of workplace misconduct, with measures to protect survivors from retribution.

The briefings suggested 20 per cent of respondents had experienced sexual harassment in the past five years, with the majority of incidents perpetrated by men or someone more senior.

Both women and men reported experiences of actual or attempted sexual assault to the review. However, it was highest among people who identified as having a diverse sexuality. Two per cent of workers indicated they had experienced actual or attempted sexual assault.

The Goward review last year found protections and processes available to ministerial staff were “unclear, ineffective and inadequate”.

The review, commissioned by Berejiklian, said ministerial offices are “unique workplaces”, where staff are under intense public scrutiny and “employment protections for ministers are vastly greater than those of their staff”.

NSW Sexual Violence Helpline 1800 385 578
Lifeline: 131 114

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