Thursday, 2 September 2021
Review of Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces
[by video link] I just wish to give the Senate and parliamentarians and, in particular, parliamentary staff a very brief update in relation to the implementation of recommendations as they relate and flow from the report of Ms Stephanie Foster PSM on parliamentary workplaces and, in particular, the response to serious incidents.
I understand that the Presiding Officers—yourself, Mr President, and the Speaker—are working through the process of making a determination, which will be settled shortly, that would confer upon the Parliamentary Services Commissioner additional functions necessary to give effect to an independent parliamentary workplace complaints mechanism for members of parliament and, most importantly, members of parliament staff operating under the MOP(S) Act. This would provide a mechanism to provide support to staff and parliamentarians in relation to serious incidents and other work health and safety matters and also to provide a mechanism for the reviewing and making of recommendations in relation to complaints about serious incidents involving MOP(S) Act employees and parliamentarians.
Mr President, I want to thank you and the Speaker for your work and cooperation in this important determination. It forms part of a range of actions that will be supported by the parliament and resolutions to be put to the parliament at our next sitting that will help to ensure that these processes are transparent, independent and private where necessary but that will also provide full accountability measures as recommended by Ms Foster. This has been a very cooperative process across the parliament. I want to acknowledge the role of the opposition in the bipartisan way it has been working through the construct of these arrangements and the role, indeed, of the minor parties and crossbenchers, all of whom have been constructive as well.
These actions are in addition to the work being undertaken by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, in her independent review into Commonwealth parliamentary workplaces, which I continue to encourage all members of parliament, all staff, former members of parliament and former staff to engage in; the establishment of the independent confidential trauma-informed support line for staff and parliamentarians, 1800APHSPT, which I urge and encourage all to engage in where necessary and to reach out there; and the imminent rollout of workplace health and safety training, also recommended by Ms Foster, that the government will be providing and making available to all staff and parliamentarians.
Once again, thanks to the presiding officers and to the opposition and parliamentarians across the board for their work and cooperation in the successful implementation of these matters.