Brittany Higgins slams Scott Morrison’s Respect@Work sexual harassment reforms

Brittany Higgins has blasted ‘devastating’ sexual harassment changes overlooked by the Morrison government.

Brittany Higgins has slammed the Morrison government for refusing to introduce a raft of major changes to sexual harassment laws.

Ms Higgins, a former Liberal Party staffer, triggered a cultural awakening earlier this year after coming forward to allege she was sexually assaulted by a colleague in 2019.

The allegations are now before the criminal justice system.

Her story has also helped shine a spotlight on toxic workplace cultures inside Parliament House and more broadly across Australia.

The government has since introduced some recommendations stemming from the Respect@Work report, a major review conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Business groups have welcomed the legislated changes, saying they will help create a future free from sexual violence and harassment at work.

But Ms Higgins claims 49 of the 55 “fundamental” recommendations were not adopted.

She said these included changes to workplace laws to explicitly ban sexual harassment, along with requirements for employers to try to stop sexual harassment in the workplace.

There were also recommended protections for victims of sexual harassment against massive legal bills for taking actions against perpetrators.

As well, there was a recommendation the Fair Work system be reviewed to ensure sexual harassment was expressly prohibited.

“These reforms would have had a real long term impact on the lives of all Australian women ensuring safer and more equitable workplaces,” Ms Higgins said.

“It’s devastating to see a real opportunity for positive change be denied for all the working women in this country.”

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the Respect@Work report a “game changer” and said his government accepted all 55 recommendations in principle, in part or in full.

But this week, his government voted against a bill to implement the key recommendations, including a requirement for bosses to accept responsibility for stopping sexual harassment.

The Morrison government’s opposition to these reforms will come into sharp focus at a national summit on women’s safety next week.

Read related topics:Scott Morrison

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Author: Shirley