Toxic culture revealed, but Brittany still wary of PM’s ‘wobbly words’

Brittany Higgins isn’t confident enough has changed to make federal parliament safer for women after her alleged rape in a minister’s office.

Dec 02, 2021, updated Dec 02, 2021
Brittany Higgins. (File image).

Brittany Higgins. (File image).

The former Liberal staffer thinks “the prime minister’s word is a little wobbly” when it comes to fixing the culture of Parliament House.

Higgins’ allegation she was raped in 2019 triggered a national reckoning over the treatment of women and multiple reviews, including one by Sex Discrimination Commission Kate Jenkins released this week.

That review found bullying and sexual harassment rife in federal parliament. One-in-three people surveyed said they had been sexually harassed. About a quarter said their harasser was a politician.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not committed to implementing all 28 recommendations of the Jenkins review.

“We don’t know, when he gives an indication that he’s supportive of policy, that he’s actually going to commit to it,” Higgins told ABC radio on Thursday.

“Unless we get it in plain English terms, I just don’t have that innate trust that it’s going to happen.”

Higgins thinks her situation would be handled more sensitively now, but isn’t confident the structural change needed is there yet.

“My assault itself was wasn’t about me, it was about power. The way I was subsequently handled wasn’t about me, it was about maintaining power,” she said.

“I don’t think, fundamentally, anything has changed internally within the building, policy-wise, that would … stop this from happening to another woman.”

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