25 September 2023

MPs vote for respectful Parliaments

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A group of female Members of Parliament has launched a program to make their workplaces safer, more respectful and free from bullying and harassment.

The Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) has written to every State and Territory Parliament, as well as the Federal Parliament, urging them to take the steps necessary to ensure their workplaces are free from intimidation and bullying for all Parliamentarians and their staff.

Chair of CWP Australia, Deputy Opposition Leader in Tasmania, Michelle O’Byrne (pictured) said the need for respectful Parliaments was a significant agenda issue at the recent CWP meeting in the Northern Territory.

“Given the current debate about women’s participation in Parliaments and the environments in which they work, it is critical current concerns are aired and every Parliament in the country is aware of these serious concerns,” Ms O’Byrne said.

“As Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians, our job is to encourage women to stand for election to Parliament, but reports that some women MPs and staff may have been bullied and harassed act against that very participation.”

She said there was a need to ensure that Australia’s Parliaments were places where women felt encouraged and safe to work.

“We recognise that the culture which prevails within political parties is central in achieving this, but we have also written to the Presiding Officers of Australia’s Parliaments to ask what steps they have taken, or could take, to better ensure a safe and respectful workplace for all Members of Parliament,” Ms O’Byrne said.

She said the CWP, which was formally a part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, worked to encourage women to stand for election across the Commonwealth, including removing barriers to their participation.

It also worked to ensure women’s issues were brought to the fore in Parliamentary debate and legislation.

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