Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2022 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 November 2022) . . Page.. 3677 ..
by employers and would be easily supported by material issued by the regulator to further assist ACT organisations in understanding their obligations.
The Workplace Legislation Amendment Bill before us today is reflective of and responsive to the government’s longstanding commitment to modernise our workplace laws. I am so pleased to have the opportunity to speak in support of this bill.
DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.17): I was not planning to speak today, so I have not prepared a speech, but I feel compelled to talk. I was sexually harassed and sexually assaulted and stalked for two years through my job. What this looked like for me was 15 or 16 text messages a day of incredibly sexually explicit things that I did not consent to and that I did not want to hear. He was a very powerful person that had international standing and I was an early career researcher at the time. I was desperate to build a career and have a positive impact on this world.
If I did not respond to his texts he would text more, so the only way to get him to stop was to text him back. I have all the text messages that he sent me. It was hundreds of days of text messages. If I did not respond to his text messages then he would start calling me. On Christmas Day 2017 I wanted one day off; I wanted one day where he did not harass me. I did not answer his messages, so he called and he called and he called, leaving messages that he was worried about my life and my wellbeing. Everything was couched in worry for me. But he was not worried about me, because the second that I answered the call and said, “I am fine. Leave me alone, please. Let me just get on with my Christmas with my kids,” he then reverted to sending me sexual messages again. I went through a complaint process and, unfortunately, the university where he worked did not see fit to run an investigation into what had happened. That was when I went on leave for months. I could not work anymore.
That is not to mention the conferences that I attended where I had to avoid him. He would set up meetings and dinners and things that I would need to attend, where he sexually assaulted me. He would follow me and, in public, in front of other people, he would touch my hair and make sexual jokes in front of others, and everyone would just go: “Oh, that’s him. He’s just drunk again. Get him away from her. Everyone rally around.” But everyone put up with it.
In the end, I had to go to the media in New Zealand, and I went through the Human Rights Tribunal in New Zealand to have my complaint resolved. There were five years of fighting for justice on this, which took a huge toll on me. Even standing here today to talk about this is extremely difficult for me. But I did it because it is not right. It should never happen. Everyone deserves to go to work and be safe and be treated respectfully.
That is why I am incredibly proud that this legislation is being passed today. I am very supportive of it. We need to do more. We need to do more as workplaces, as employers and as colleagues to ensure that everybody is safe at work.
MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella—Manager of Government Business, Minister for Corrections, Minister for Industrial Relations and Workplace Safety, Minister for Planning and Land Management and Minister for Police and Emergency