Statement from Martin Parkinson: the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces

Statement from Martin Parkinson: the National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces

PM&C
Friday, 25 January 2019

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Departmental logo and crest

I refer to the Canberra Times article titled “Public Servants face extra hurdle to give evidence” from 25 January 2019, regarding the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces.

There is no additional hurdle imposed by the process agreed by the Secretaries Board. In fact, it is a streamlined process designed specifically to reduce the possibility of retraumatisation.

The Australian Public Service Commission’s (APSC) Ethics Advisory Service will professionally and confidentially arrange for limited waivers from the employing department on behalf of the affected individual.

The Secretaries Board supports the Inquiry and encourages affected individuals to seek a limited waiver through the APSC.

The APSC worked with Ms Kate Jenkins, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and the AHRC to design this process.

The article incorrectly states that the Commissioner requested that employers put in place a limited waiver of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) “without an application process.”  The Commissioner’s letter of 23 November 2018 did not refer to an application process, it suggested a statement to be issued by employers. 

The Secretaries Board actively considered the Commissioner’s request, and agreed an approach tailored for Australian Public Service (APS) agencies.  Other organisations also tailored their approach, and I note that the APS process has less conditions attached than a number of other organisations.

Further information about how to seek a limited waiver to a NDA from an APS agency can be found at https://www.apsc.gov.au/national-inquiry-sexual-harassment-australian-workplaces.