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AWU Presents: The Julia Gillard Next Generation Intern

August 11, 2021

The Julia Gillard Next Generation Intern report, The Missing Women of Australian Politics: How violence against women creates barriers to female representation, paints a bleak picture of treatment of women in politics in Australia.

The Next Generation Intern is backed by the AWU, Slater and Gordon, and Emily’s List.

Read the full report here

The report by 2020/21 Next Generation Intern Medha Majumdar, to be launched tonight by former Prime Minister Gillard, looks at the impact of violence against women in politics.

It’s a topic that has come into sharp focus during 2020 with the revelations of sexual harassment and assault within Parliament House in Canberra.

“Experiences of violence at each stage of the journey into politics forces some women to leave their aspirations for leadership behind,” Ms Majumdar says.

“My research suggests that there are hundreds of women who should have been in positions of political leadership throughout Australian history, but were pushed to exit their political careers before they were able to fulfil their potential.

“They are the missing women of Australian politics – competent, enthusiastic, and inspiring individuals who were targeted by abuse to force them out.”

AWU Assistant National Secretary Misha Zelinsky says the report comes at a time when Federal Parliament is debating the Respect at Work bill, aimed to combat sexual harassment in the workplace.

He says the AWU is pushing for amendments recommended by the landmark Respect@Work report, including:

  • Stronger work health and safety laws to make sure employers tackle the underlying causes of sexual harassment at work.
  • Prohibiting sexual harassment in the Fair Work Act, and providing 10 days paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave as a national minimum employment standard.
  • Stronger powers for the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to make her own decisions to investigate industries and workplaces which are rife with sexual harassment.

“These recommendations seek to raise awareness, improve support structures and reporting mechanisms, and to enact cultural change in politics in Australia,” he says.

The Next Generation Intern report features interviews with current and former MPs, election candidates, and political staffers, as well as an anonymous survey of women with experience in politics at all levels of government informed this report.

It also analyses international examples of progress, primarily from the United Kingdom, where there is substantive work underway to make their parliaments and political parties safer.

In doing so, it makes recommendations to help reduce the prevalence of abuse and harassment in politics.

Ms Gillard says that while the report’s findings are grim, they should be used to create positive change.

“Women belong in parliament, as staff, members of parliament, and at every level of leadership,” she says.

“While the findings of this report highlight the serious barriers women are facing at all stages of their career, we must now use this research, and the growing dialogue about the treatment of women in parliament, to ensure we go forward prepared to support, foster, and learn from, the leaders of the future.”

To read the full report click here

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