Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
The Hon. Scott Morrison MP
26 July 2021
The Government has today agreed to adopt all ten recommendations of the final report by Stephanie Foster PSM into the processes and procedures relating to serious incidents in the parliamentary workplace.
Every Australian has a right to feel and to be safe at work.
The report has made some significant findings and recommendations to improve how serious incidents are prevented and dealt with in the parliamentary workplace.
The final report incorporates feedback from consultations with the opposition, minor parties, independents and staff, including proposing options for Parliament to mandate training for parliamentarians.
We have already taken steps to make the workplace safer and to help prevent, identify and respond to serious incidents in the workplace. For example, earlier this year we established a dedicated 24/7 support line, 1800 274 778, for staff who have experienced serious incidents in the workplace.
An independent complaints mechanism for serious incidents in the Parliamentary workplace will be established. This mechanism will be overseen by the Parliamentary Service Commissioner and will apply to incidents from the commencement of the current term of Parliament.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet will work with the Parliamentary Service Commissioner to stand-up this mechanism within the next six weeks. The Government will work with the Speaker, the President and other parliamentary parties to operationalise the independent complaints mechanism.
In addition, we have been piloting a face-to-face training program for parliamentarians and their staff. This training will be rolled-out widely from September of this year. It will be mandatory for all Coalition Ministers and staff, and it is expected that all other parliamentarians and their staff will undertake this training when it is available to them.
Parliamentarians are answerable to their constituents and therefore the Government agrees with Ms Foster’s recommendation that a public register would instil confidence that Parliamentarians were undertaking the necessary actions. The Government will work with the opposition, minor parties and independents to develop a public register of Parliamentarians who have undertaken the training.
Ms Foster’s recommendations provide for implementation of important reforms ahead of the receipt of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Jenkins’ independent review into Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces later this year.
The Government thanks Ms Foster for her report and now looks forward to working together with Members and Senators from across the political spectrum to make the changes we need to ensure parliamentary workplaces are safe, supportive and respectful.
Full details will be available at: https://pmc.gov.au/resource-centre/pmc/review-parliamentary-workplace-responding-serious-incidents