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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 March 2021) . . Page.. 638 ..


MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (4.33): I thank Ms Orr for the motion and acknowledge in supporting it that all employees have the right to work in an environment free from workplace bullying, discrimination and harassment and to be treated with dignity and respect. The ACT public service is committed to building positive work environments where inappropriate behaviour and misconduct, such as workplace bullying and sexual harassment, are not tolerated.

Members would be aware that the ACT public service has a respect, equity and diversity framework that was introduced a little over a decade ago to support the creation and maintenance of positive, respectful and supportive ACT public sector work environments. The respect, equity and diversity framework ensures that all employees, irrespective of their position, background or individual differences, understand ACT public service values and the general obligations of employees as described in the Public Sector Management Act 1994. As the framework has been in place since 2010, it is appropriate that it be reviewed. That will be undertaken this year, with a particular focus on workplace bullying and harassment.

All sexual harassment complaints made within the ACT public service are treated seriously and with strict confidentiality. If a complainant suggests potential trauma, the employee will be made aware of and ensured access to appropriate support services. Several different avenues are available to ACT public servants to report a workplace issue, including a sexual harassment complaint. These avenues include speaking with a manager, an HR representative or a respect, equity and diversity contact officer, and reporting the issue via the Riskman reporting system.

If a complaint is made, the relevant manager or supervisor will conduct a preliminary assessment. This follows the process set out in the ACT public Service enterprise agreements. If potential misconduct is uncovered, the matter will be referred to a delegate of the Head of Service. The delegate will then determine the most appropriate action. If the delegate determines that an investigation is required, the matter will be referred to the Public Sector Standards Commissioner for formal investigation. Of course, if potential criminal offences are identified, the matter will be referred to ACT Policing.

It goes without saying that bullying, discrimination and harassment are unacceptable in the ACT Public Service and, indeed, should be unacceptable in any workplace. So I thank Ms Orr for bringing this motion forward today and commend it to the Assembly. I thank all those who have contributed to the debate.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Early Childhood Development, Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (4.36): I thank Ms Orr for bringing this motion to the Assembly today. I have been listening to everybody who has been speaking and sharing their personal experiences with sexual harassment and assault in their workplaces and I want to remind members of this place of the support services we are setting up and putting place as a result of what this might be triggering for MLAs who have experienced that or members of their staff who might have experienced sexual harassment and assault.


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