The Australian Human Rights Commission welcomed the endorsement today of codes of conduct for Federal Parliament and a new report detailing advancements made to improve the workplace culture at Parliament House.
The codes set standards of conduct for parliamentarians, staffers, and all other employees in parliamentary workplaces. They were endorsed by the Senate this morning and debated in the House, which is expected to also endorse them soon.
Australia’s National Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said: “This is an historic moment. Federal Parliament has never had codes of conduct. They are an important tool to help ensure parliament is a safe, respectful workplace.”
The cross-party Parliamentary Leadership Taskforce today tabled a report detailing progress on implementing recommendations to improve the workplace culture at parliament, which were made by the Commission’s Set the Standard: Report on the Independent Review into Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces.
The Prime Minister, party leaders and other parliamentarians restated their commitment to making parliament a safe and respectful workplace – the third time such a conversation has occurred in the last 12 months.
Commissioner Jenkins welcomed the progress report, which found that parliament has already implemented six of the 28 recommendations, with four others partly implemented and 17 in progress. Codes of conduct were a key recommendation of the review.
“The Taskforce has made excellent progress. It has implemented important changes that are already having tangible benefits for parliamentary staff, and it has significantly advanced major pieces of work that will further improve the workplace culture at Parliament House,” Commissioner Jenkins said.
“It is an important show of leadership that the Taskforce has been supported by the party leaders, Presiding Officers, the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Standards, parliamentary departments, and parliamentarians across the spectrum.
“The improvement of parliament’s workplace culture sets an example for other workplaces all over the country, where employers now have a legal obligation to take proactive steps to prevent workplace sexual harassment from occurring.”
The progress report showed parliament now has better protections for staff against discrimination and unfair termination, new training and support programs, independent workplace support services, and family friendly changes to the sitting calendar.
The MOP(S) Act has also been reviewed, with recommendations yet to be implemented. Other initiatives being advanced are detailed in the report.