Marie Claire Australia
Gender-based bullying and sexism have been ugly, ubiquitous forces during Sarah HansonYoung’s 14 years in politics, a workplace environment she describes as a “boys’ club where the corridors reek of testosterone”. In 2018 her tolerance levels expired after then-senator David Leyonhjelm attacked her in the Senate, suggesting she should “stop shagging men”. After he repeated the comments outside parliament, she sued for defamation and was awarded $120,000 in damages – the Federal Court slamming his comments as “crass, offensive and obviously sexist”.
It’s no wonder then that the findings of Jenkins’ Set the Standard report didn’t surprise the Greens senator, but she is confident that spotlighting the situation is a step in the right direction. “We’re having conversations now that we never had a year ago,” she says. “But it’s time to get on with it. How the Morrison government responds to the recommendations will send a crucial message to the nation’s workforce, because parliament should lead the way and set the standard. To turn a blind eye to the report is to turn a blind eye to bullying, harassment and abuse.”
Hanson-Young remains galvanised by her decision to call out the injustice she suffered, knowing it has emboldened countless women around the country. “I spoke up to send a message to every woman and girl who has been told to stay quiet or to not rock the boat in the face of harassment and abuse. They don’t need to suffer in silence. Now is the time to demand equality for women, for our daughters to be safe and respected.”
“Parliament should lead the way and set the standard” – Sarah Hanson-Young