Morrison promised an investigation into the alleged rape and culture within the country’s political capital, a day after the former staff member went to the media with her story.
Brittany Higgins alleges she was raped by a former colleague in the defense minister’s office after a work event in the evening in March 2019.
In an interview with the Australian show Network 10 “Project” on Monday, Higgins said she tried to go home, but the unnamed colleague insisted they go to the House of Parliament in a taxi to “get something” where she passed on a sofa.
She told “Project” that she woke up to find her colleague at the top of her “mid-rape”, and when she repeatedly asked him to stop, he did not. Higgins has not publicly identified her alleged rapist.
Higgins said she spoke to police in early April 2019 but decided not to make a formal complaint amid concerns about her career prospects. “It simply is not the right decision for me personally, especially in light of my demands on the job,” she wrote, according to Australia.com news.au. Police in Canberra confirmed to Reuters that they had spoken to a complainant in April 2019, but she chose not to file a formal complaint.
After Higgins told senior staff at Reynolds’s office the alleged attack, she said in the interview that she was then asked to attend an office meeting where she said she was attacked.
Defense Secretary Linda Reynolds told Parliament Monday that she did not know the content of the allegations when she called the meeting with her staff member and “if I had known, I would have conducted the meeting elsewhere.”
“That should not have happened and I apologize,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra. “I want to make sure every young woman working in this country is as safe as possible.”
According to Morrison, the Prime Minister’s Department and Cabinet official Stephanie Foster will investigate how complaints are handled in the workplace in Parliament. There will also be a special investigation into workplace culture.
In a statement to CNN, Higgins said she had come forward “because I did not want what happened to me to happen to anyone else.”
As she thanked Morrison for his pardon, Higgins said the Prime Minister’s announcement of an inquiry into the House of Parliament culture was “belated”.
“My story, or the story of other surviving victims, should not have been broadcast on national television for the Prime Minister – or any member of parliament – to take action on sexual harassment, assault or harassment in the workplace,” he said. she in the statement.
Higgins’s allegations are the latest in a string of allegations made by female members of the ruling Liberal Party, which have pressured Morrison to take steps to improve government culture in the workplace.
Last year, a former Liberal Party staff member accused then-Immigration Minister Alan Tudge of misconduct, which he denies.
In her statement, Higgins called on Parliament to establish an independent reporting mechanism through which complaints can be made confidentially.
“Finally, everyone should feel safe to report sexual assault without fear of losing their job. These incidents should not play into the media for change to happen,” she said.
Additional reports from Reuters and Hilary Whiteman.
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