Wednesday, September 22, 2021

New safety net for women political staff to be developed

The NSW Government will develop a new safety net for political staff following a review of policies ordered by Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Professor Pru Goward has delivered her report to the Premier.

Berejiklian said she welcomed the findings of the Goward Review into Policies and Procedures in Ministerial Offices regarding bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct and will be accepting the recommendations made.

“I would like to thank Pru Goward for this comprehensive and forthright report,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“It’s very important to me that we stress test everything that exists in and around NSW Ministerial Offices to make sure that we have in place good policies and culture.

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“I am keen to adopt all the recommendations and there will be an opportunity for consultation in the next phase of this process. If we’re serious about making change, we have to do it properly and this will involve engagement with NSW Parliament and any survivors.

“I want to have a clear conscience that I’ve done everything I can to make sure that our workplace is supportive, respectful, and fair and that staff are always comfortable in coming forward in a safe setting.”

The review found shortcomings currently exist within the system, and 13 recommendations have been made including:

  • The establishment of an independent process for those unwilling to have their complaint handled within a Ministerial Office;
  • The establishment of clear and transparent processes to be followed where complaints are made, including where the complaint may constitute criminal conduct;
  • Development of a best practice Respectful Workplace Policy, including investigative and reporting procedures to address bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct in Ministerial Offices to enhance the safety and security of staff;
  • An increased focus on training for staff and Chiefs regarding their obligations;
  • An anonymous survey to be conducted of all Ministers and their staff to establish a baseline for the subsequent impact of the new policies and procedures.
  • That the independent structure report regularly to the Premier on emerging trends and proposals to improve the respectful workplace policy.
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