The Australian Human Rights Commission (Commission) is conducting an Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces (Review). The Review was established by the Federal Government with the support of the Opposition and crossbench.
The Review will build an understanding of the culture of Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces, with the aim of ensuring a safe and respectful work environment, with our national Parliament reflecting best practice in the prevention and handling of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Have your say
The Commission encourages people who are currently working or have previously worked in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces to share their experiences with the Review through a written submission or interview.
The Commission will not be investigating nor making findings about individual allegations of bullying, sexual harassment or sexual assault as part of the Review.
The Commission will report on its findings and recommendations in a report to be tabled in Parliament in November 2021. The report will be published on this website at that time.
The Commission, in partnership with Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, has developed a trauma-informed guide to support people who would like to share experiences of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault with the Review. The guide provides information on what people should consider in participating and the potential impacts of such participation. You can download the guide below.
The Review is being conducted under UNSW Human Research Ethics Committee approval (HC Reference Number HC21064). If you have any concerns about the ethical considerations of this Review, you can contact the UNSW Human Research Ethics Coordinator on (02) 9385 6222 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can raise your concerns with the Review Team.
On 19 July 2021, the Commission released a progress update which outlines the work of the Review to date, including the methodology of the Review. It contains the only information on the Review that will be released by the Commission ahead of the final report in November 2021.
Terms of Reference
The Terms of Reference outline the scope of the Review in more detail.
Participating in the Review
Who will be able to participate in the Review?
The Commission is seeking written contributions from:
- current and former Commonwealth parliamentarians (Members and Senators)
- people who work or have previously worked for Commonwealth parliamentarians (Members and Senators), including but not limited to:
- people employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 (Cth)
- workers in electorate offices
- other current and former workers in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces, including but not limited to:
- people employed under the Public Service Act 1999 (Cth) and the Parliamentary Services Act 1999 (Cth)
- hospitality, retail, cleaning, security and other service provider workers within the Parliament of Australia
- journalists and other media workers
- volunteers, interns and students in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces
- organisations and experts that have direct experience or expertise in the areas under Review (as outlined in the Terms of Reference for the Review).
Note, the term ‘worker’ is broad and is intended to include individuals engaging in paid and unpaid work, such as employees, contractors and subcontractors (and employees of contractors and subcontractors), labour hire workers, apprentices and trainees, students, interns and volunteers.
I want to share my story. How can I participate in the Review?
There are different ways to participate in the Review, including by:
Providing a written submission via the Commission’s website
Participating in a confidential interview with Review staff using our online booking system
The Commission is interested in hearing about both positive and negative experiences.
Who is conducting the Review?
The Review is being conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and will be led by the Review Team and supported by other qualified Commission staff.
What is a submission?
Any contribution to an inquiry or review is called a submission. Submissions are usually written, but there is no set format and they do not need to be formal documents. It is helpful if the content of submissions (whether online or in another format) address the specific questions raised by the Review.
An online submission form has been developed to help relevant individuals and organisations participate and provide their views, and we encourage you to use this form. Submissions can be anonymous (individuals only), confidential (your submission will not be published), published (name withheld), or published (with name).
If you are unable to make an online written submission, you can register for a phone or in-person interview via our online booking form. Alternatively, you can mail your written submission to:
GPO Box 5218
Sydney NSW 2001
How can I make a submission to the Review?
You can share your experiences by providing a written submission through our online form. Your submission can be as long or as short as you like, and we are interested in hearing about both the positive and negative experiences.
You are not required to answer any of the questions in the online form. You can choose to provide a written submission by either using the free text box, by attaching a document to the form, or by emailing your submission to CPWReview@humanrights.gov.au.
Please note that by providing a written submission you are not making a complaint or report.
Submissions close on 31 July 2021.
I want to participate in a confidential interview. How can I do that?
The Commission will be conducting confidential face-to-face interviews in capital cities and other locations across Australia unless there are travel restrictions due to COVID-19. Participants will also be offered the option of interview via phone and videoconference. Interviews will take place in June and July 2021 and a range of times will be made available between the hours of 7am and 7pm.
Interview participants can bring a support person to the interview. Interviews will be recorded with the permission of participants. If you do not wish to be recorded but you would like to participate you can advise the Review Team and written notes will be taken instead.
To view the dates and times the Review Team will be in your nearest capital city and to book an interview please visit our online booking form.
What will I be asked about?
If you choose to contribute to the Review by making a submission or participating in an interview, the Commission will ask you questions based on the Terms of Reference for the Review, including about:
- the workplace culture of Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces;
- the risk factors contributing to bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault for workers in Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces; and
- your awareness of relevant policies, practices, processes and supports.
The Commission acknowledges that discussing bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault can cause distress and discomfort. If you experience distress or discomfort while participating in this Review, you can choose not to answer certain questions, skip questions, or stop participating at any time.
- Participant Information Sheets and Consent Forms
What should I do if I have accessibility requirements?
If you would like to be involved in the Review and want to discuss how the Commission can support your involvement by providing appropriate supports and/or adjustments, please contact the Review Team at CPWReview@humanrights.gov.au or by calling 1300 369 711.
How will you keep my information confidential? Will any information I share with the Review be made public?
By providing a submission to this Review, you consent to the Commission collecting and using the information you provide for the purposes of the Review.
The Commission will produce a report on the findings of the Review. The Commission will also produce a Progress Report and other materials in connection with the Review. The report and materials will be published on the Commission’s website under a Creative Commons licence with the contents available to be used freely for other purposes.
The Commission will treat your name and personal information confidentially. Your name and other personal or identifying information will not be published in the report, or in any other Commission publication. The information you provide may be drawn upon, quoted or referred to in the public report and other resources produced by the Commission in connection with the Review, but will not be attributed to you, and will not be used if its use could identify you.
The Archives and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (Cth) provides additional protections to ensure confidentiality. This Act provides participants in the Review with assurance that any submissions they make to the Review will be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and will not come into an open access period under the Archives Act 1983 (Cth)for 99 years.
Information (including personal information) collected during the course of the Review will be stored in accordance with the Archives Act 1983 (Cth), the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth).
While the Commission does not expect many young people to contribute to the Review, in certain circumstances Commission staff and others involved in this Review may be obligated under relevant State and Territory laws to report to the relevant authorities an act that involves abuse to a child, or an act that is a ‘serious indictable offence’. This is known as ‘mandatory reporting’. Mandatory reporting obligations may also arise in cases of suspected risk of future abuse or harm or incidents of historic child sex abuse. Whether mandatory reporting obligations are triggered in the course of this Review will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
If the Commission is not required by law to report an act, it may still make a voluntary report to the relevant authorities, in circumstances where the Commission is concerned that serious harm has occurred, or is occurring, or may occur in the future, in accordance with the Commission’s Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy.
The Commission may also be required to report to relevant authorities in other circumstances.
How is the Review being funded?
The Federal Government is funding the Commission, on a cost recovery basis, to undertake the Review. The Commission is an independent Commonwealth statutory authority, which ensures the integrity of the Review and provides the participants with confidence in the process, no matter the source of funding.
How and when will I find out the results of the Review?
The Commission intends to publish a progress update in July 2021. The Commission also intends to publish a report on the findings of the Review in November 2021. These reports will be publicly and freely available on the Commission’s website.
Who can I talk to if I have questions?
Updates on the Review will be published on the Commission website. If you would like any further information or have any questions concerning this Review, please contact the Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces Review Team at CPWReview@humanrights.gov.au or on 02 9284 9799.
If your situation is urgent
If you wish to report a criminal offence, contact 000 or police services in your jurisdiction.
Support line for Commonwealth parliamentary staff
Parliamentary Support Line: 1800 APH SPT or 1800 274 778
The Commonwealth Government has established an independent and confidential 24/7 telephone service to support all current and former Commonwealth ministerial, parliamentary and electorate office staff. The Parliamentary Support Line provides access to confidential trauma-informed counselling services for people who have experienced a serious incident in a Commonwealth parliamentary workplace.
As well as counselling, the service can provide supported referrals to other specialist services, and assistance in determining pathways to progress complaints.
A 24/7 confidential counselling, information and support for people impacted by sexual assault or family or domestic violence. Phone 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732 or visit 1800Respect online counselling.
Details for sexual assault support services in each state and territory can be found here.