Today, extraordinary Queensland women speak with one voice, telling The Sunday Mail's Frances Whiting their stories of sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse.

Here, Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk, former MP Kate Jones and former opposition leader Deb Frecklington share their experiences.

From harassment as a teenager and being removed from meetings, all are told with courage and honesty, in the hope of sparking change, and all can be summed up with one word. Enough.

It is time for respect.

 

Kate Jones, former government minister

"I could not walk out my door without men calling out at me, ogling and even following me"
Kate Jones. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Kate Jones. Picture: Nigel Hallett

From when I was 15 years of age, I literally could not walk out my front door without men calling out at me, ogling me and even following me.

I was groped by colleagues, taxi drivers, driving instructors, customers and strangers. Numerous times I was offered work at strip clubs and in porn, just walking down the Queen Street Mall.

I was still at school.

Once I had completed school, it just got worse - and the sexual assaults more brazen. When I finished uni and landed my first ministerial office job at 21, I thought this was all be behind me.

I was gutted, then, when an older and more senior advisor who worked for another Minister started sexually harassing me.

I felt betrayed that this was happening even in government. Even in this professional environment, which should be the benchmark, I couldn't count on this behaviour being in my past.

I realised it would instead be very much a part of my future.

That I would have to continue to cope with like so many other women.

 

 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Adam Head
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: Adam Head

 

Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland

"He crushed my hand … I still have pain"

When I was at university I had a job at Expo.

On Saturday nights I'd finish at about 11 and catch the bus back to campus.

It should have been a safe place and for most men at the time, it was - they could walk through the Great Court with confidence.

It was so dark and no one had mobile phones.

I remember being so worried I would run from the bus to my room as fast as I could.

I wasn't the only one.

I campaigned with a group of other female students to call on the university to install more lights around campus.

I recall another time I was at a meeting with a room full of men.

I was pointed at and asked to leave.

I was the only woman in the room.

It was humiliating.

Shortly thereafter I was given an apology but by then it was too late.

The damage was done.

That moment has always stuck with me.

 

 

Former opposition leader Deb Frecklington. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
Former opposition leader Deb Frecklington. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

 

Deb Frecklington, former LNP leader

"I refused to let him grope me so I was sacked at Christmas"

So many women who have gone before us have worked incredibly hard to stand up for what is right.

I applaud and commend all the women who are sharing their experiences and raising awareness about sexual harassment.

I was reflecting on a speech I made in 2014 which sadly makes me think that things haven't changed as much as we would like.

I talked about my experience serving on a committee where I was the only female member. It was during a meeting of this committee that a group of men from a large business visited to provide a briefing.

Their first words were "Hello gentlemen" - as I truly believe they thought I was the secretary taking notes. I answered back "and ladies". There was no apology or acknowledgement.

However that experience was one that made me realise I had to be a part of helping to shape change. I hope that my time as the first female leader of the LNP has helped other women see that women can achieve and we can lead.

Women feel strongly about this issue, no matter what their political persuasion. This is an important moment to bring this issue into the spotlight and highlight that this behaviour is not OK.

Years ago, when I was working in London as a backpacker, I worked in a large hotel as a waitress until I was sacked on Christmas Day when I refused to let the chef grope me each time I went to the kitchen.

The manager told me: "Just put up with it, we can't change him."

I left immediately, as it is not OK.

 

 

Originally published as Kate Jones: 'I could not walk out my front door'



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