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.
“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.
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.