Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 01 Hansard (Thursday, 3 December 2020 2020) . . Page.. 146 ..
particularly in my early days, were my first connections, to the networks that I built through my children’s schools, playgroups, sports and connections I built through work, local clubs and community events.
Over time I have grown to care very deeply about our Canberra community. I would not want to live anywhere else in the world. An important part of my work as a researcher has always been to remain independent. Two years ago I was at a point where I felt maintaining independence was compromising action and advocacy. It no longer worked for me. So I joined the Labor Party. Joining the party has been a remarkable experience. It has been a great relief for me to be surrounded by people with similar worldviews and values, all working together to make the world a fairer and equitable place. I have been humbled by the sense of community in the party and time and resources that people volunteer. I thank the party for supporting me to represent the community of Murrumbidgee.
As we all know, there are life-shaping experiences that we strive for and there are those that are put upon us. In August last year I nominated to run as a Labor candidate for Murrumbidgee. Four days earlier I had submitted a formal complaint to my workplace evidencing over two years of sexual harassment, stalking and bullying that I had experienced by a very prominent New Zealand professor who was also pro-vice-chancellor of one of New Zealand’s leading universities. Academia is a hierarchical sector. Professors, the majority of whom are male, are most often highly revered and respected. Most academics specialise in quite niche fields. Your career progression is as much dependent on the quality of your research as it is on the relationships within your own university and other international and national institutions.
My situation started in what was a mentor type of relationship. He was a distinguished leader nearing the end of his career and I was just starting mine. My marriage had ended and I was on my own with three very young children. I very acutely felt the pressure of my income being the only income. I felt that making a formal complaint directly jeopardised my job and my career prospects. I attempted to navigate the situation for over two years. I asked him to stop so many times and he did not. It was very distressing for me to take this complaint to my workplace. I am someone who derives a lot of self-worth from my work. I work hard and I pride myself on my professionalism. This threatened what I had worked for, what I had diligently built.
Unfortunately, the complaint process failed me and failed everyone. Despite hundreds of pages of texts and emails evidencing what had happened, there was no investigation into what had happened and no disciplinary action was taken. This man continued to hold a position of power over my career and, after I had made a formal complaint against him, that felt even more threatening. I had no protection and no justice. In January this year I contacted one of New Zealand’s leading journalists, who was dedicated to investigating me-too stories. My story broke in New Zealand on 24 May and the fallout from it has been on the front page in New Zealand’s media. The articles that have come out over the months have unravelled a decades-long culture of sexual harassment and cover-ups at this university.