All past and present staff who have worked in Parliament House have been emailed a new confidential counselling helpline to discuss sexual assault or harassment.
The Department of Finance sent the message to thousands of political staffers and advisers on Tuesday, as a minister accused of rape in 1988 vowed to go public and declare his innocence.
The group email, obtained by Daily Mail Australia, was also sent out a fortnight after Brittany Higgins, a former assistant media adviser to then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds, went public to allege a male work colleague had raped her in her Parliament House, Canberra workplace weeks before the May 2019 election.
‘The Government has today announced an independent and confidential 24/7 telephone service to support current and former Commonwealth ministerial, parliamentary and electorate office staff, and those who have experienced serious incidents in a Commonwealth Parliamentary workplace,’ the email said.
All past and present staff who have worked in Parliament House have been emailed a new confidential help line to report sexual assault
Without mentioning Ms Higgins, the email sent to private email addresses acknowledged the revelations had been traumatic.
‘The events of the last few weeks have been deeply distressing and traumatic for many,’ it said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison last month responded to Ms Higgins’s accounts by saying he had talked about the issue with his wife Jenny.
This week, on a separate matter, Mr Morrison said he believed the senior cabinet minister’s insistence that he was innocent of rape in 1988.
A woman last year committed suicide after making a complaint to South Australian police after an incident she said occurred in Sydney 32 years earlier.
The Department of Finance email nonetheless praised the Prime Minister for showing leadership.
‘In light of this, and ahead of the completion of the reviews initiated by the Prime Minister into workplace culture and safety, immediate action to provide psychological support is necessary,’ the group email said.
In response to this urgent need, a new Parliamentary Support Line has been established and is now available.’
The group email, obtained by Daily Mail Australia, was also sent out a fortnight after Brittany Higgins, a former assistant media adviser to then defence industry minister Linda Reynolds, went public to allege a male work colleague had raped her in her Parliament House, Canberra workplace weeks before the May 2019 election
The email stressed the anonymous helpline was designed to provide support, not investigate sexual assault or harassment allegations.
‘The service is provided by trained professionals specialising in supporting staff, their families, friends and colleagues,’ the email said.
‘It will not have an investigative function.
‘The new service is free, anonymous, independent and confidential and can provide you with information, counselling and referrals in response to sexual violence, assault, sexual harassment and other serious incidents in the workplace.
‘No information will be shared with anyone else. All supported referrals will be done with your consent.’
With 227 federal MPs in Parliament, thousands of staffers would have received the email.
The Prime Minister’s Office alone has 58 staff.
The email said help was also available to managers seeking advice on dealing with sexual assault complaints.
If you have worked at Parliament House and need to talk with a trained professional, call 1800 APH SPT (1800 274 778)
If you need help dealing with domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT or 1800 737 732
The email stressed the anonymous helpline was designed to provide support, not investigate sexual assault allegations