Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 629 ..
need to challenge. We need to challenge casual and overt sexism, unwanted behaviour and biases that mean we are the ones asked to take notes or fetch coffee rather than speak up at an important meeting or ask for a promotion. We need to challenge our own fear of inadequacies and we need to challenge our imposter syndrome. Alongside this we need clear laws, policies and codes of conduct, with strong repercussions for perpetrators. We need justice. For too long the parliaments and workplaces of this country have been boys’ clubs. We women of Australia are speaking loud and clear and we are saying, “Enough is enough.”
I am one of the lucky ones. I am educated, middle class, and privileged to work with a strong team of women across parties to make the ACT a better place. The sexual law reforms currently being worked on by Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury is an example of this. But when we, here, when we, the people in power, design codes of conduct and law reforms, we are not just acting for ourselves. We are acting for women everywhere—the women who clean up our offices, the women who make our coffee, the women who are doing the work after we go home. We are acting for the women who now, or at some stage in their life, did not have the power to stand up and choose to challenge.
Women in our workplaces need to be supported so that we can make full contributions. We know strong workplace safety laws will protect all workers, but particularly those who are most marginalised and those who have less power than others. Different women have contributions to make; and when workplaces are less diverse, that is when we need to consult better, empathise more and create more pathways. I was recently mentored by an amazing woman, Harriet Elvin, under the Audrey Fagan program, which is a program that helps create women leaders. I am now mentoring a young woman and I am speaking to many more about the pathway into politics, which is one way that we can help.
When women leave their workplace because of sexual harassment and because the system does not support them, the women lose, but their workplaces lose too because our workplaces and society are robbed of their contributions. The ACT Greens welcome and support Ms Orr’s motion. We look forward to our continued extended work to support women across the ACT to be safe, healthy and happy in lives of their choosing.
DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (3.59): I want to thank Ms Orr for bringing this motion to the Assembly. When writing this speech, I was trying to think how to convey what even the most subtle experience of sexual harassment is like and where it starts. Think of your most cringeworthy moment. Think of where you have embarrassed yourself. You feel a sense of horror. You feel the blood rush up your neck to your face. Your heart beats faster. Your stomach feels sick, and all your head wants to do is get the hell out of there. It is a physical, emotional and mental response, and it is quite an awful feeling.
So now, go to the office meeting, the professional workplace setting. The scene surrounding you is something that you have dreamed of. You are at the table. If you have read US corporate executive Sheryl Sandberg’s book, you are leaning in. Then the man sitting to your left looks you up and down. He starts talking to you. His body