Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Thursday, 23 September 2021
A new Parliamentary Workplace Support Service (PWSS), including a new independent workplace complaints mechanism, is now available to staff and Parliamentarians who work in Commonwealth Parliamentary workplaces.
The establishment of an independent Parliamentary workplace complaints mechanism was a key recommendation of the Review of the Parliamentary Workplace: Responding to Serious Incidents (the Foster Review) conducted by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Deputy Secretary Stephanie Foster PSM.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the PWSS would provide support to staff and Parliamentarians impacted by serious incidents or patterns of behaviour that cause serious harm such as bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault in our workplace.
“Every single Australian has a right to feel and to be safe in their workplace, and our national Parliament should set an example and reflect best practice in the prevention and handling of bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault,” Minister Birmingham said.
“The PWSS will be able to review complaints made about serious Parliamentary workplace incidents which are alleged to have occurred since the start of this Parliamentary term, and will be overseen by Parliamentary Service Commissioner Mr Peter Woolcott AO, to ensure its independence and confidentiality.
“The Government and Opposition have confirmed their bipartisan support for the new PWSS by finalising a new resolution that will be put to both Houses of Parliament at the next sitting to help ensure it can deliver the full accountability recommended by the Foster Review.
“I thank the Opposition, minor parties and independents for their ongoing constructive engagement to stand-up this support service, and for their ongoing work to make the changes we need to ensure parliamentary workplaces are safe, supportive and respectful.
“This service is in addition to work already completed to establish an independent, confidential, trauma-informed parliamentary support line as well as the rollout this week of workplace safety and respect training for staff and parliamentarians.
“These measures were immediate priorities the Foster Review recommended be implemented ahead of the completion of the Independent Review of Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces being undertaken by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.”
The PWSS will:
- provide immediate advice and ongoing trauma-informed support to all parliamentary staff and parliamentarians;
- receive reports of serious incidents;
- appoint independent experts to conduct workplace reviews into complaints of serious incidents and make recommendations; and
- facilitate referrals to appropriate authorities, such as the police or other specialised support services.
The PWSS will be staffed by trained counsellors and case coordinators, who will be available, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
More information on the PWSS can be found at www.pwss.gov.au.