The review, conducted by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, has been released today and found that bullying is a significant issue across Parliamentary workplaces in NSW. Some offices are described as “well-known hotspots”, characterised by high rates of staff turnover related to harmful behaviours.
Sexual harassment and everyday sexism occur at unacceptable rates, with prevalence of experiences particularly high for women, people who identified as having a diverse sexuality and younger people (24-35 years old).
The human cost of these behaviours is high. Although resilient and committed to their roles, many review participants described the impact of these behaviours on their mental health, their wellbeing, their relationships, and their career as ‘devastating’.
The organisational cost is similarly high, with Parliamentary workplaces losing smart, talented and passionate individuals due to these behaviours.
Almost 450 people work in NSW parliamentary workplaces – more than a quarter of those eligible – took part in the review. Ms Broderick’s team also conducted more than 100 confidential one-on-one interviews, seven group sessions and received 58 written submissions.
Key findings include a third of parliamentary workers surveyed said they had been bullied or sexually harassed over the past five years. Whilst more than 40% of the sexual harassment incidents were perpetrated by an elected member of parliament. More than half (52%) of bullying incidents were by MPs.
Knowledge of, and trust in, the reporting arrangements is low, with particular concern relating to confidentiality and a perceived high risk of retribution or negative career impacts, for those who report harmful behaviours.
To respond to these findings, the Report proposes a Framework for Action – a blueprint that the NSW Parliament can follow as Parliamentary leaders work collaboratively towards ensuring that its workplaces are genuinely respectful, inclusive, and safe and that people who perpetrate harmful behaviour are accountable.
For more information, read the full report.