Australian National University Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt says former Liberal Brittany Higgins has become an advocate for women across Australia and he expects her new role at ANU to lead to meaningful change at the highest levels.
As she continues her search – in the wake of accusations of watershed that she had been sexually assaulted in 2019 at a ministry – to make jobs, including the House of Commons, safer for all women, Mrs Higgins has been appointed a visiting member of ANU’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership.
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who established and headed the original institute at King’s College London, has welcomed Mrs Higgins as an “incredible leader” and “a powerful force for change”.
Professor Schmidt says the institute is about empowering women, which makes Mrs. Higgins right for the role
“I think Brittany Higgins has become an advocate for women across the country,” he said The Canberra Times.
“Experiences like Brittany Higgins have are powerless for women. They make women go out of politics, with leadership in general.
“And so in my opinion, she has an opportunity, I think, to take the wisdom she’s gained over the last year and hopefully be able to combine that with our researchers who are experts in data and analysis, and hopefully try to pave the way. a better way forward for Australian women. “
As part of her role, Ms Higgins will help promote the work on a proposed code of conduct to improve standards in Parliament’s House and Parliamentary workplaces, as well as strive to prevent and respond to all workplaces to abuse, harassment and sexual offenses.
She said in a statement: “I am dedicated to driving meaningful change in Parliament and all Australian workplaces so that our systems work better to prevent and respond to inappropriate workplace behavior.
“All women have the right to feel safe and respected at work and in society in a broader sense.
“The 2021 Women’s Summit was a good first step in tackling these challenges. Now more than ever in the midst of growing inequality due to COVID-19, it is important to ensure that words are translated into action.”
ANU is the first university in the world to collaborate with the department, which was established and headed by Mrs. Gillard.
The former prime minister said Mrs Higgins was “a strong force for change” and she is happy she has joined her initiative.
“In Brittany, Australia has an incredible leader who is already making a huge impact,” Gillard said.
“I applaud her courage to come forward with her experiences and her determination to ensure that other women never have to go through what she has.
“Her bravery should and must lead to meaningful change, not just in our workplaces, but across our entire society.”
A fierce national conversation about the treatment of women erupted after Mrs Higgins, a former government media adviser, claimed in February that she had been sexually assaulted in 2019 in Parliament’s office of Prime Minister Linda Reynolds. A man has been charged and pleaded not guilty.
This has led to various inquiries, public conventions and further revelations.
Professor Schmidt says that the work of the department through ANU will help any such study or formal mechanism for change.
“You have to have real experiences to inform about how to get a meaningful change from the evidence,” he said.
“So from my perspective, it’s about making sure that the formal inquiries have the best set of evidence and information and ideas so that they can come up with sensible recommendations that will hopefully be followed through and actually then make Parliament House a workplace that is safe for all and one that promotes female participation in our parliamentary processes.
“It’s not just the House of Parliament, it’s actually the whole Parliament and all the things that feed into Parliament, and all the people are working to get Parliament running on its sides.”