Former political worker claims she was raped by a colleague at Parliament House in 2019. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a formal apology to her.
The case of Brittany Higgins spurred a broad investigation that revealed a “boys club” culture in parliament where sexual harassment is rampant.
On Tuesday, the apology in parliament was also for those who had been sexually harassed or bullied there.
Mr Morrison has been chastised in the past for his comments.
Ms Higgins, a former employee for two ministers, sat in the public gallery of the House of Representatives to watch the prime minister, the opposition leader, and others apologise.
“Sorry, I’m sorry, we’re sorry. I apologise to Ms Higgins for the horrible events that occurred here. The facility that was supposed to be a safe haven turned out to be a nightmare “Mr. Morrison explained.
“I apologise for a lot more than that. All those who came before Ms Higgins… but she dared to speak, and therefore we are here.”
After coming forward with her complaint last year, Ms Higgins helped inspire tens of thousands of people to join rallies.
Following a study by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, it was discovered that one in every three staff members working in parliamentary offices had been sexually harassed.
Her team spoke with around 500 people, read over 300 written entries, and received feedback from 1,723 people and 33 organisations. Its study highlighted a culture of “bullying, sexual harassment, and sexual assault” that was fueled by alcohol.
Ms Jenkins’ evaluation included several suggestions, including Tuesday’s apologies.
Mr Morrison has been harshly chastised for his government’s handling of Ms Higgins’ complaints. After meeting with his wife, who had helped him “clarify” his views by comparing Ms Higgins to his own daughters, he ordered a study into parliament’s culture in February last year, sparking public uproar.
On Twitter at the time, novelist Jamila Rizvi commented, “It shouldn’t take a man having a daughter for him to treat women who’ve been raped with understanding and respect.”
Brittany Higgins claims she was raped in her boss’s office in 2019 and that when she reported the rape to then-Defense Minister Linda Reynolds, she was ignored, given little help, and encouraged to resign.
Ms Higgins accused Mr. Cameron of adopting “continuous victim-blaming rhetoric” that was “personally very distressing to me and countless other survivors” last year.
In a tweet, former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, a sexual assault survivor, branded Tuesday’s apology a “stunt” and demanded “proactive, preventative actions.”