Australia’s political leaders have apologized in Parliament for sexually transgressive behaviour and harassment in parliamentary offices.
The apology comes a year after reports of rapes and other revelations about the conditions in which women were forced to work. Those allegations sparked outrage and protests across the country.
The statement was made in both houses of Parliament during the first session of 2022. Prime Minister Scott Morrison took the floor to also apologize to the victims. “Sorry is just the beginning; that’s our promise to those here today and those watching all over Australia.”
The prime minister addressed former employee Brittany Higgins at the beginning of his statement. She announced in January last year that she had been raped by a colleague in 2019, after which other women also came with shocking revelations. Morrison thanked Higgins, who, like several other whistleblowers, had come to Parliament for her courage.
The apologies had been recommended in a report which concluded that there had been widespread harassment and sexual abuse in Parliament’s offices. About 63 percent of female parliamentarians have experienced sexual harassment, according to that report, compared to 40 percent of female parliamentarians.