21 February 2023

Vivienne Thom appointed new chair of Parliamentary Leadership Taskforce

| Chris Johnson
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Dr Vivienne Thom

Dr Vivienne Thom will oversee the adoption of the Set the Standard report on sexual harassment and bullying in Parliament House as a workplace. Photo: The Centre for Strategy and Governance.

Former inspector-general of intelligence and security, Vivienne Thom, will lead the next phase of making Parliament House a safer place to work.

Finance and Public Service Minister Katy Gallagher has appointed Dr Thom to replace Kerri Hartland as the chair of the Parliamentary Leadership Taskforce.

Dr Thom will oversee the taskforce’s implementation of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ Set the Standard report, which examined sexual harassment claims and the bullying culture of Parliament House as a workplace.

Announcing the appointment on Friday, Senator Gallagher praised Dr Thom as the right person for the job.

“Ms Jenkins’ report highlighted an unacceptably high rate of bullying and sexual harassment in parliamentary workplaces,” Senator Gallagher said.

“Dr Thom will bring a wealth of experience to this role, having previously conducted a number of sensitive and complex inquiries into allegations of misconduct.

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“Everyone has the right to be safe at work, and our Parliament should set the highest standard for workplace behaviour and culture.

“Dr Thom’s experience, integrity and commitment to bring about lasting, positive change will contribute to these important reforms and building on the progress that the PLT has already overseen.”

Last year, Dr Thom investigated sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination claims former Coalition staffer Rachelle Miller made against then-minister Alan Tudge, with whom she had had a relationship.

The Commonwealth paid Ms Miller a $650,000 settlement in September last year without admitting any liability.

Mr Tudge resigned from Parliament completely this month, citing health and family reasons.

Dr Thom has also investigated other allegations of misconduct of politicians and their staffers.

She was made a Member of the Order of Australia for her significant service to public administration and mentorship of women in executive positions.

Ms Jenkins delivered her report to the Morrison government at the end of 2021, sparking a public apology in Parliament in February 2022.

On the first day of the 2022 sitting, the Parliament took time to acknowledge the wrongs that parliamentary staff have suffered, with former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, the woman whose rape allegation sparked a number of the inquiries, sitting in the gallery.

The Federal Parliament heard statements from then-prime minister Scott Morrison and then-opposition leader Anthony Albanese, as well as from the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.

The statements were the first recommendation of Jenkins’ independent review, which described the parliamentary workplace as a “man’s world” in which bullying and sexual harassment were rife.

“Sorry is only the start. That is our promise to those who are here today and those watching across Australia. We must and we can and we will do better,” Mr Morrison said at the time.

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Mr Albanese offered similar assurances on the day.

“I am determined that we deliver the outcomes of the Jenkins Review and make our Commonwealth Parliamentary workplaces safer and respectful for everyone,” he said at the time.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone in this building as well as every former staff member who stepped up to share their experiences of workplace bullying and misconduct of sexual harassment and, most traumatically, sexual assault.

“I say to everyone who took part, that took a level of courage that you should never have needed to show. But you did and we thank you for it.”

Ms Hartland takes up her new role as director-general of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service this week.

Senator Gallagher thanked the outgoing chair for her work.

“On behalf of the Government and the taskforce, we thank Ms Kerri Hartland for her work as the first chair of the taskforce,” she said.

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innersouthsister2:52 pm 21 Feb 23

Enough ‘reviews’. I know 5 children who have been unable to leave a room for a year now! One of the children, a baby, was born in hiding and has never been outside! She is now walking and talking! How can evacuated Afghan families resettle here if their children and relatives are subject to such torture? They dare not even look out the window. We know what lockdown was like. Imagine kids being subject to 1 room inside 24×7 for a year!!!!

They have ONLY 1 hope and that is an Australian visa which will allow them to transit via Pakistan issued while they are inside Afghanistan. They have absolutely no other avenue of escape. Without that visa even if they make it to the border they cannot cross.

The children went into that room aged newborn, 4, 6, 7, 9, and 10. They have to keep quiet, have no education, no access to medical care, no socialisation, no visit to the park or market, no friends except each other, no sunshine, no tree, no flowers, no grass. I am literally going crazy watching them grow up in 1 room on video. Its EXACTLY like people hiding children during the Holocaust and the Government wants to ‘review’ it? I mean really. The first batch of evacuees were given 447 visa’s in-country so just give these kids a visa just like that! Just like we promised them we would in September 2021. They could not get out then through that airport or to the border. The babies mother was 8m pregnant. The W children need a visa now! They are without their males who were evacuated. We took away their security. The Taliban is also putting flags up outside the homes of unaccompanied females who are then being forced to marry Taliban fighters. The 10 year old is a GIRL! PLEASE JUST SIMPLY FIX THIS. PLEASE ACT NOW FOR THE W CHILDREN.

innersouthsister5:32 pm 21 Feb 23

Sorry correction on ages, newborn, 4, 7, 9, 10.

Peter Graves5:18 pm 20 Feb 23

Ms Thom was/is also involved in a review of the visa for locally-engaged Afghan staff.
On 10 November 2022, Minister Wong announced: “as part of the Albanese Government’s commitment to standing by those who helped Australia, today we announce Dr Vivienne Thom AM will lead an Independent Review into the Afghan Locally Engaged Employee (LEE) program.

Established in 2012, the program gives eligible Afghan LEE, who are at risk of harm due to their employment in support of Australia’s twenty-year mission in Afghanistan, priority under Australia’s Humanitarian Program. Since 2012, more than 2,300 Afghan LEE and their families have arrived in Australia.”

Dr Thom AM will report her findings to the Australian Government in early 2023.”

No announcement of this Review having been completed and handed to the Government.
No one left behind should be Australia’s policy on Afghan LEEs.

What completion date of this review and announcement by the Government, please ?

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