The Hon. Scott Morrison MP
Tuesday 25 May 2021
On 16 February 2021, I commissioned Ms Stephanie Foster PSM, Deputy Secretary, Governance in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, to undertake a report into the procedures and processes relating to serious incidents in the parliamentary workplace.
I asked Ms Foster to consider:
- The procedures and processes involved in identifying and reporting a serious incident, particularly assault or sexual assault;
- Steps that can be taken to ensure the processes of reporting and responses to serious incidents are able to be made independent from the employer;
- Recommendations on how to ensure that all reporting and responses to serious incidents are driven by a principle of providing empowerment to the victims; and
- Recommendations on how to ensure that the services and support that are provided to a victim are timely, effective, and ongoing.
Initially, Ms Foster provided advice to me on measures that required urgent implementation to address some of these issues. This included the establishment of a 24/7, independent, confidential and trauma-informed phone support line for all staff and parliamentarians (1800 APH SPT).
Last night, Ms Foster provided her final report which has made a number of significant findings that address gaps in existing procedures and processes when it comes to responding to serious incidents, providing support for those impacted by them, and of a preventative nature.
Her proposals and recommendations seek to ensure that processes are independent, provide empowerment to victims, and provide timely, effective and ongoing support.
Beyond measures already put in place, her recommendations include:
- Implementation of a face-to-face education program helping managers and staff understand their obligations in relation to a safe and respectful workplace, and to recognise and respond appropriately to serious incidents or patterns of behaviour in the workplace. Work on this program is well underway.
- Development of an independent, confidential, complaints mechanism for serious incidents. This body of work is more detailed and complex and will require consultation across the Parliament.
I intend to take this report to Cabinet and respond to the recommendations on behalf of the Government. Following this, I will seek to engage with all parties and parliamentarians to implement the response.
Ms Foster’s deliberations and her report have been designed deliberately to come forward with concrete steps. Throughout this process she has worked closely with the Sex Discrimination Commissioner Ms Kate Jenkins. I hope that this report will assist the Commissioner as part of her review into longer term cultural and systemic issues.
I thank Ms Foster for her report and I look forward to working with others to ensure lasting reform is achieved on these important issues.