Independent Review of Harassment in the Parliament Workplace

Information for potential participants

The Commissioner for Equal Opportunity has been asked by Parliament to conduct an independent review into harassment in the parliamentary workplace. The consultation phases of the review will commence in December 2020.

This page provides information about the Terms of Reference, scope and methodology of the review, as well as other information you may find useful to inform your decision about participating in the review.

The objectives of the review were listed in the motion that was introduced by the Attorney-General and then passed in the House of Assembly in SA Parliament on 12 November 2020. The same objectives were also agreed to in a concurrent motion in the Legislative Council. 

These were that the Houses of Parliament:

          1.    Note the prevalence and nature of harassment in the parliamentary workplace, including the perception of workplace culture, the
                 impact of any harassment on individuals and the workplace culture, and any contributing factors to the prevalence of harassment.

          2.    Request that the Equal Opportunity Commissioner (‘the Commissioner’) consider the reporting of harassment in the
                 parliamentary workplace, including existing complaint mechanisms and any cultural and structural barriers, including
                 potential victimisation, to reporting. 

          3.    Request that the Commissioner undertake a review into the response to complaints made about harassment in the
                 parliamentary workplace, including legal and policy mechanisms in place governing responses, any sanctions
                 available where harassment is confirmed and the way incidents of harassment have been handled by the
                 parliamentary workplace in the recent past. 

          4.    Request that the Commissioner provide recommendations as to— 

                (a)    any action that should be taken to increase awareness as to the impact of harassment and improve culture,
                         including training and the role of leadership in promoting a culture that prevents workplace harassment; 
                (b)    any legislative, regulatory, administrative, legal or policy gaps that should be addressed in the interests
                        of enhancing protection against and providing appropriate responses to harassment; and 
                (c)    other action necessary to address harassment in the parliamentary workplace.

For this review ‘parliamentary workplace’ includes: 

  • Parliament House
  • Electoral offices
  • Ministers’ offices
  • Other places attended by persons who work in the parliamentary workplace in association with their duties (for example, work travel or social events).

The review will consider the existing regulatory framework, organisational structure, policies, and procedures that apply to Members of Parliament and staff in the parliamentary workplace, as well as best practice in responding to and preventing workplace harassment.

The experiences and views of those working in the parliamentary workplace are vital to this review. Members of Parliament and staff will be invited to contribute by participating in an anonymous survey, making written submissions and speaking with the Acting Commissioner. Past Members of Parliament and staff or experts who wish to contribute to the review can do so by making a written submission. 

A final report making recommendations will be delivered to the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the President of the Legislative Council. The Presiding Members will then table the report in their respective Houses.

You can make a written submission or request an interview by emailing us at parliamentEOCreview@sa.gov.au 

Consultation timeframes

 Consultation phase  Dates
 1.   Survey  - Link emailed to participants during week of Monday 7 December 2020
 - Open until close of business Thursday 31 December 2020
 2.   Written submissions  - Can be submitted via email or post anytime until 15 January 2021
 3.   Interviews   - Starting Monday 14 December, continuing into early 2021
  - Register your interest in participating in an interview by emailing or phoning the research team
 

The Participant Information Statement sets out the key information about the review for participants.

Participant Information Statement (PDF 480KB)

All employees in the parliamentary workplace (with the exception of some casual staff) will have received this information statement via email to their work email address by Friday 4 December 2020. If you are a person being consulted as part of the review (see list in Additional information below) and you have not received this information by 4 December 2020 contact the review team.

Participants include:

  • Anyone who works at parliament house
  • Anyone who works at an electoral office
  • Anyone who works in a Minister’s office

In addition to the publically available services listed in the Participation Information Statement (above), you may be eligible to access free and confidential counselling through your EAP if being asked and answering questions as part of the review has triggered difficult memories for you. A list of eligible employees and providers is below.

  • Legislative Council employees – ACCESS Programs 1300 66 77 00
  • House of Assembly employees – ACCESS Programs 1300 66 77 00
  • Joint Parliamentary Services employees – ACCESS Programs 1300 66 77 00
  • Electorate Office staff and trainees (other than casual relief staff)  – Converge International 1300 687 327 and Corporate Health Group 1800 870 147
  • Parliamentary Counsel employees – Converge International 1300 687 327
  • Protective Security Officers – refer to your intranet for details

People being consulted in the review

All employees and elected Members who work in the Parliament precinct are invited to participate in the review. This includes:

  • Members of Parliament 
  • Ministerial and Member of Parliament staffers 
  • Staff and trainees in electoral offices of House of Assembly Members (electoral office staff are considered extensions of the parliamentary workforce for the purposes of the review 
  • the Clerks and Deputy-Clerks of both Houses 
  • the staff of both Houses 
  • Joint Parliamentary Services staff 
  • staff within the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel 
  • Protective Security Officers posted to the Parliament House precinct.

If you are currently conducting work in Parliament and would like to participate in the anonymous survey, and do not receive a link via email to the survey by Friday 11 December 2020, contact the review team.

The anonymous online survey will be sent to current employees only. However if you are a past employee or Member of Parliament and have information you would like to contribute to the review, you are welcome to make a written submission to the email address below which will be considered in the review.

Additionally if you are not a present or past employee or Member of Parliament, but feel you have particular expertise relevant to the objectives of the review, you are welcome to make a written submission to the email address below which will be considered in the review.

Types of harassment being considered

The focus of the Independent Review of Harassment in the Parliament Workplace is sexual harassment. However we are also interested in hearing about harassment that have as their basis one or more of the grounds of discrimination prohibited by the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA) including but not limited to gender identity, sexual orientation, race, disability and age. A full list of grounds can be found at https://eoc.sa.gov.au/what-discrimination/types-discrimination/information-all-grounds 

Parliament has not asked the Equal Opportunity Commission to look into issues of harassment and bullying of a general nature. 

Where the harassment occurred 

For the purposes of the review, work-related events and travel are considered extensions of the ‘workplace’. Additionally, the electoral offices of House of Assembly Members are considered extensions of the parliamentary workplace for the purposes of the review. 

Therefore harassment of the kinds described above that occur at work-related events, during work-related travel and at electoral offices are relevant to the review.

Understanding sexual harassment

Sexual harassment means any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, in circumstances where is it reasonable to expect that the other person would be offended, afraid or humiliated by that conduct. Both men and women can sexually harass and be harassed by either sex.

Sexual harassment is determined from the point of view of the person feeling harassed. It does not matter how the behaviour was intended. What matters is its effect on the other person. 

Sexual harassment can be:

  • unwelcome touching or kissing
  • commenting on a person's appearance
  • comments, jokes or name-calling
  • leering or staring
  • sexual pictures, objects, emails, text messages or literature
  • direct or implied propositions, or requests for dates
  • asking about a person's sexual history or sexual activities.

Mutual attraction or friendship with consent is not sexual harassment.

Privacy and confidentiality

By participating in the review, you consent to the review team at the Office of the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity collecting and using information about you for the purposes of the review. We will store information in a secure manner and in accordance with the State Records Act 1997 (SA). 

The online survey is completely anonymous – you will not be asked to provide your name or other contact details at any stage during the survey questionnaire.

The information you provide in written submissions and/or interviews will not be identifiable or attributable to you in any report produced as part of this review. If we want to include a case study that contains information you have provided, we will consult with you first and you can to tell us not to include it in the final report.

Accessibility considerations

If you require special assistance to support your participation in the review please contact the review team on the details below and this will be arranged for you.

Investigation of alleged incidents

It is important to know that incidences of harassment disclosed as part of the review process will not be investigated as part of the review. The review is looking at systemic workplace issues and solutions.

If you believe the incident may constitute unlawful discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation under the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA), and it occurred in the past 12 months, you may be able to lodge a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission. You will need to undertake this step independently of any contribution you make to the review. For more information about complaints to the Equal Opportunity Commission, see https://eoc.sa.gov.au/what-discrimination 

The review team may also be able to refer you to another relevant complaints body if you request this assistance. 

    Contact information

    The review team can be contacted on the below phone number and email address.

    Please note we are a small team and will respond as soon as possible.

    Phone: 08 8303 0266

    Email: parliamentEOCreview@sa.gov.au

    Media release about the review