Jenkins review needs urgent implementation: experts

30 November 2021

Australia's leading institute for women's leadership is urging all political parties and independents to commit to implementing the Independent review into Commonwealth Parliamentary workplaces led by Kate Jenkins. 

The Global Institute for Women's Leadership (GIWL) at The Australian National University (ANU) says the so-called Jenkins review offers clear reforms to make all parliamentary workplaces safer. 

"There isn't a minute to waste," ANU GIWL Director Professor Michelle Ryan said. "All workplaces should be safe for women. It's simply not good enough that they still aren't, especially Parliament. 

"We often speak about needing more women working in our parliament, both as MPs and as staff.  But gender equality is not just about the number of women in a workplace; it is also about the nature of the women's experiences in those workplaces. 

"At the moment, one of the major barriers to gender equality is women feeling unsafe in their workplaces. The Jenkins review provides a blueprint on how to change this. Our political leaders must now make it happen. 

"GIWL stands ready to assist in any way to support the review's full and urgent implementation."

ANU is the first international node of GIWL, originally established and led by former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and based at King's College London. The institute is committed to improving workplace gender equality in Australia, the Asia-Pacific and globally. 

"It's time to change our federal parliament forever. We need a code of conduct and an effective way of receiving and acting on complaints. The Jenkins review gives us this," Ms Gillard said. 

"We need all political parties to work together with urgency and ambition and commit to deliver the bold reforms that are needed." 

Ms Brittany Higgins, who joined ANU GIWL as its inaugural visiting fellow earlier this year, said she was pleased to see the review deliver its report and hoped it "inspired immediate action". 

"I want to thank the many brave people who shared their stories which contributed to this review. I hope all sides of politics not only commit to but implement these recommendations in full," Ms Higgins said. 

A key component of the review is proposed codes of conduct for parliamentary workplaces.

"This is an especially important element in making sure our parliamentary workplaces are safer," Professor Ryan said. "So it is encouraging to see this also included in the review's recommendations. 

"This is vital to helping prevent abuse, harassment and sexual misconduct in Parliament, and ensuring we respond appropriately if it does happen."