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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 632 ..


could put his hand in my slit. There was being asked about coffee when I was the most senior person, but the only woman, present in a meeting. There was the situation where, when disagreeing with a female colleague, a male colleague called it a catfight. There was the situation where, when disagreeing with a male colleague, he said, “You must have your period and that is why you are cranky.”

There was the situation at a meeting discussing job cuts where the view put by many of the men present was that the women should be the first to go because they had husbands to look after them. There was the boss when I was 18 who stood behind my chair, trapping me against the desk, rubbing himself on the back of my chair, breathing heavily behind me and looking down the front of my top. There was having to keep pregnancies secret because you were afraid of being sacked. In one organisation, there was a work hard, play hard culture, where excess alcohol consumption was encouraged, and paid for by the company, leading to predictable problems. One time, when speaking with my boss about needing some time off for a dental appointment, a male co-worker loudly said, “I know what I would do with your root canal, and I am not a dentist.” There was the situation of hands on your knee under the table at work-related dinners.

I could go on and on. These are the types of actions that many women have experienced and continue to experience. Of course, as we have heard recently, there have been much worse incidents than I have outlined.

We cannot continue to keep having these conversations. Something has to change. I do not want my granddaughters to be having these same conversations years from now. Everyone should feel safe in their workplace. They should feel supported. They should not dread going to work. They should not have to make plans with co-workers, usually female, about never leaving someone alone in a room with a particular person.

Enough is enough. Legislative change is a great start, but we must remember that women will not settle for just legislative change; there must be societal change. It is not only about what happens in our parliament; it is about the community at large. It is about what happens in our homes, at dinner tables and in schools, as well as what happens in workplaces.

My colleague Mr Cain is going to talk further about the legislative changes, but more needs to be done. I think we have all acknowledged that. We need more education in schools; stronger protections in our workplaces; and proactive leadership in state, territory and federal parliaments. It is not easy to get things right. If it were easy, we would have already got it right by now. But by listening, reflecting and believing women and their experiences, we can work towards practical solutions.

This motion on its own will not solve the entrenched problems of bullying, harassment, gender-based violence and sexual harassment in our workplaces, but we have to start somewhere. Once again, I would like to thank Ms Orr for bringing on this motion, which we will be supporting.

MR CAIN (Ginninderra) (4.12): I would like to add some comments in support of this motion. The outpouring of anger, frustration and sadness over the past month


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