Sydney, Australia, Aug 12 (EFE).- At least five people have come out with allegations of facing sexual abuse or rape in the regional parliament of New South Wales, Australia’s most populated province, according to a report released Friday, after a prominent rape case that came to light last year prompted further investigations.
“Clearly, we have a culture in the New South Wales parliament that over time has become in many instances toxic and is wrong,” NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said in a press conference in Sydney while releasing the report.
The probe, ordered last year and headed by former sex discrimination commissioner of Australia Elizabeth Broederick, revealed that five people had alleged facing sexual assault or rape in within the last five years.
The investigation into the toxic culture in the NSW parliament, in which nearly one third of the workforce took part, comes over a year after Brittany Higgins, a junior staffer of the Liberal Party, alleged that she was raped by a former colleague inside the Australian parliament in Canberra.
The case sent shockwaves across the country and led to more investigations, such as the NSW one, which covered the NSW parliament and other spaces visited the workforce in the course of work.
The report also suggests that regional lawmakers were the alleged aggressors in nearly half of the cases within the regional parliament, while the survivors were mostly young women, members of the LGBTIQ community and linguistic and cultural minorities.
“Parliamentarians are leaders and role models in our society. They should lead from the front,” Perrottet said, adding that such practices were “inacceptable.”
In February this year, former prime minister Scott Morrison and his successor, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, along with both houses of the Australian Parliament, offered an official apology to Higgins and other victims of sexual abuse, harassment and sexual assault in the political sphere.
The apology is part of the recommendations made in November by an independent commission – established in March 2021 by the government after Higgins’ complaint – which revealed that 51 percent of the parliamentary workforce in Canberra had experienced at least one incident of sexual abuse, harassment or rape. EFE