On the first anniversary of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s Set the Standard Report on the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces (Set the Standard report), as Presiding Officers, we again, acknowledge the history of unacceptable behaviour in Parliament House and recommit the Parliament to positive change.

The Set the Standard report highlighted that a high rate of people, particularly women, in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces have experienced bullying, sexual harassment, or actual or attempted sexual assault. This is unacceptable. We restate the commitment of the Parliament to making lasting change to ensure this does not continue.

We have an ongoing responsibility to creating a workplace that attracts and supports the best people our country has to offer.

The Parliamentary Leadership Taskforce is leading meaningful change within the Parliament, and we commend their commitment in understanding and addressing the issues that have been ignored for too long.

Since February, there has already been significant progress in implementing the 28 recommendations of the report:

  • Legislation has been amended to clarify our duties in respect of employment, antidiscrimination and work health and safety laws.
  • Proposed Codes of Conduct have been developed for parliamentarians, staff, and parliamentary workplaces.
  • Changes to the sitting calendar and hours of sitting now consider wellbeing, balance, and flexibility.
  • New parliamentarians and their staff have participated in refreshed induction processes.
  • A feasibility study into a Parliamentary Health and Wellbeing Service is being conducted, with plans to improve services for parliamentarians and staff including General Practitioner services, pharmaceutical and mental health supports.
  • Work is underway to improve work health and safety, accessibility for those with disability and professional support available for parliamentarians and their staff.
  • The Parliamentary Workplace Support Service has been expanded. It is already providing confidential support and advice to those in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces.
  • The Senate and House Procedure Committee are examining standing orders and conventions to improve levels of safety and respect in the Chamber and to enhance wellbeing, balance and flexibility.

Looking forward, some of the notable work underway includes:

  • The establishment of a new human resources function to support parliamentarians and their staff.
  • The development of new measures to support greater diversity and inclusion.

The framework for action set out in the Set the Standard Report is leadership, diversity and inclusion, accountability, and safety and wellbeing.

We all have a responsibility to display exemplary individual leadership. We all have a role to play to set the standard for an inclusive, respectful, and professional workplace here in Parliament House and across Australia.