‘Long overdue’: Brittany hits back at PM
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, whose allegations of rape have rocked Parliament House, has called on the Prime Minister to establish an independent body for staff to take complaints in her first public comments since he offered her an public apology for the way the matter was handled.
Ms Higgins revealed this week she was sexually assaulted in Defence Minister Linda Reynolds office and felt forced to choose between her job and taking the matter to police.
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has offered her a personal apology for the way the matter was handled this morning and announced a review of workplace culture telling MPs in the party room they all had a responsibility to do better.
"I shared my story yesterday because I didn't want what happened to me, to happen to anyone else,'' she told news.com.au
"I note the apology from the Prime Minister in the media this morning and thank him for this.
"The Prime Minister's announcement of an investigation into the culture in Parliament House is a welcomed first-step, though it is long overdue."
But Ms Higgins said she was saddened she needed to expose herself to full public glare to secure change.
"It should not have taken my story, or the story of other victim-survivors to air on national television for the Prime Minister - or any Member of Parliament - to take action on workplace sexual harassment, assault or bullying,'' she said.
"A clear path forward is now required - and that includes a comprehensive review to the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act to ensure adequate protections for staff.
"There needs to be an independent reporting mechanism for staff where they can confidently and safely make complaints - similar to processes in many other workplaces in Australia and abroad."
Ms Higgins said she knew this was not a problem confined to the Liberal Party.
"Political parties also need to conduct their own internal reviews and establish formal accountability processes. As we all know, this isn't a problem confined to one side of politics,'' she said.
"Finally, everyone should feel safe to report sexual assault without fear of losing their job. These incidents shouldn't have to play out in the media for change to happen.
"I would like to extend my gratitude to those who have sent messages of support during this time. I ask for my privacy to now be respected as I begin to emotionally recover from this difficult period and wish to make no further comment."
Despite the Prime Minister's public offer of support, friends of Ms Higgins has confirmed no minister or MP has reached out privately with a message of support since she went public on Monday.
Originally published as 'Long overdue': Brittany hits back at PM