Advertisement

Brittany Higgins: Harassment isn’t gossip, it’s a crime

Equality advocate Brittany Higgins says the women’s movement in Australia has powerful momentum but needs to be backed by changes to the law.

Mar 08, 2022, updated Mar 08, 2022
Activist and author Brittany Higgins (left) and CEO and workplace safety advocate Christine Holgate pose for a photograph during the Marie Claire International Women’s Day breakfast in Sydney. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

Activist and author Brittany Higgins (left) and CEO and workplace safety advocate Christine Holgate pose for a photograph during the Marie Claire International Women’s Day breakfast in Sydney. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

The former Liberal Party staffer says the movement to empower women has great momentum in Australia and that concrete legislative action must now be taken.

In a speech delivered on International Women’s Day, Ms Higgins said that after going public with allegations she was raped in the office of a member of parliament in 2019, her focus has shifted to also calling for changes outside the walls of parliament.

“Initially, on the parliamentary reforms … I wanted to make a stand in parliament house, because it was so particularly bad,” Higgins said on Tuesday at the Marie Claire annual International Women’s Day breakfast.

She said bullying and harassment was widely tolerated at parliament.

“We’d all share stories and it was talked about like gossip and not discussed like a crime,” she said.

“It is a crime – and it’s tolerated.”

Higgins said the issues faced by Australian women are broader than the scope of her experience in parliament, and she hopes to provide a space for women to feel listened to.

A new campaign called Safety, Respect, Equity calls for legislating free, accessible childcare, action on the national plan for first nations women and girls, consistent sexual assault laws to protect children and laws to remove the pay gap.

Higgins said the reforms would benefit every workplace in Australia.

Higgins is involved in the campaign along with 2021 Australian of the Year, Grace Tame. Businesswoman and philanthropist Lucy Turnbull, former Liberal MP Julia Banks, youth advocate Yasmin Poole and former Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate are also supporting the initiative.

Those involved are all quite different women with different stories, Holgate said.

“But we’re bound together by one thing – that is, enough is enough,” she said.

“We want a safer, more equitable Australia … and I think it’s important for the women … the men and the children for the future of this country.”

Local News Matters
Advertisement
Copyright © 2024 InQueensland.
All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy