News – AU – Birmingham failed to meet with a former employee after hearing assault allegations – InDaily


The Morrison government minister, charged with overseeing a bipartisan review of parliamentary work culture following the rape of Brittany Higgins, admits that he refused to meet with a former employee, even though she knew she had made “serious allegations” of sexual assault

SA Senator and Federal Treasury Secretary Simon Birmingham responded to a statement published in InDaily today in which his former associate Chelsey Potter called for rapid cultural and procedural change in Canberra and “new robust, clear procedures for complaints about bullying “Calls for Sexual Harassment and Assault”

Potter went public in the Sydney Morning Herald in July 2019 alleging that she had been sexually assaulted by a Liberal colleague who was reported at the time as having “strongly denied” the claim

She writes in InDaily today that in the days leading up to the article’s publication, she reached out to her former boss, Birmingham, in whose office she was working at the time of the alleged attack

“I thought it was important that he knew why I was speaking years later … I wanted him to understand the processes – along with the culture I was experiencing – that were holding back disclosure or complaints,” she writes

“He also had to hear what happened to me as an employer, party power broker and my boyfriend”

She said Birmingham refused to meet her despite being made aware of her allegations

In response to questions from InDaily, Birmingham today confirmed that the couple will announce that as of Friday, April 26 July 2019, exchanged text messages – almost four days before the Sydney Morning Herald article was published

He said in a statement to InDaily, “Ms. Potter contacted me via text message and said,” Hi Simon, I wanted to text me earlier but if you are in Adelaide this weekend it would be great to have a quick beer to drink I know how insanely busy you are so I totally understand if you can’t It would be good to catch up Cheers, Chels

“I replied to Ms. Potter on the same day by saying, ‘Thank you Chels Sorry, I am unable to catch up this weekend I understand that you have made some serious allegations to the media about what you allege I encourage you to speak to professionals about such matters and to propose to the women’s information service (https: // officeforwomen) (governmentau / womens-information-service) or 1800Respect (https: // www1800 Respektorgau) suitable options would be ‘”

Birmingham said that “at no other time has Mrs. Potter made these allegations with me or anyone else in my office, or attempted to discuss them with me”

“I share Ms. Potter’s publicly stated desire for cultural changes that will help prevent such incidents and improve handling practices

“I encourage past and current members of Parliament to participate in the multi-party, independent review that is being set up to seek fundamental changes on these issues”

In Potter’s InDaily article, she writes that since that exchange and after her claim was published, she has not received “yet a call” from her former boss

Today Birmingham said, “I will be in touch with Ms. Potter to discuss setting up the review and encourage her to look into it”

“The allegations made by Ms. Potter on Monday the 29th July 2019, first published on the Sydney Morning Herald website, are grave and deeply troubling, “he said

“I was first made aware of these grave allegations when my office was contacted by a journalist the week before the article was published

“The story of the Sydney Morning Herald made it clear that Ms. Potter never discussed the alleged incident with me

“The 2019 article referred to an alleged event in 2015. Until 2019, none of the people involved were employed by me or any other MP”

On 31 In July 2019, Birmingham was asked about the allegation in an interview on ABC Radio Adelaide and another by an independent complainant in the same article

At the time, he said the allegations were “all news to me” and did not disclose that any of the complainants were a former employee

“It was a surprise when I heard journalists have asked about this in the past few days,” he said at the time

“What I would say to anyone, whether they work in government or elsewhere, is … you know, obviously these allegations are themselves deeply worrying and troubling, but anyone in these circumstances should employ the kind of proper lawsuits that are available to them You are available

“If you need additional support, you should turn to government funded organizations like 1800RESPECT or the South Australia Women’s Information Service

“With regard to handling in the workplace, you should use the processes available there again and speak to your employer

“I find in this story that in both cases the individuals indicate that they did not raise it with the MP who employed them

He said there are “very clear processes” within the Treasury Department that he is now overseeing for federal officials to “seek advice, seek advice, file a complaint [or] request a formal investigation so we have perfectly clear processes that are in place, and under the circumstances I would urge everyone to achieve and apply those processes “

Following a rape allegation by Brittany Higgins, a former Secretary of Defense Linda Reynolds, last week, Birmingham was appointed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “work with all political parties and independents across Parliament to establish an independent multi-party review the way in which matters in the workplace are managed around parliamentary staff, how we can create a culture in an environment that reduces and minimizes the risk of such terrible sexual assault or other harassment or misconduct “

Birmingham told ABC Radio this morning, “We are clearly admitting the inadequacy of what is there”

“This is why this process is being carried out because the stories Brittany Higgins and others have told over the past few years are clear evidence that too many people don’t feel they can handle police complaints,” he said

When asked this morning Birmingham if there had ever been a similar complaint of assault or harassment in its own office, he replied, “I was never brought this, but I know of a former employee of mine who later did it has done leaving my office, alleging ”

“The subject was never brought to me or my office – it was brought up in the media some time after [Mrs. Potter] left my office,” he said

“I think we can all learn how to try to create an environment for better support”

He said that if someone came to him today with similar allegations, he would “try to get the police involved and initiate these discussions” and “encourage those involved to seek independent advice, support services and advice so they can are supported “

“And I would give you my absolute commitment to ensure that you had my full support, that your job was safe, and that I would through all of the decisions you would make regarding the prosecution of such a dire case I have supported appropriate channels with the police and at the same time the emotional support that clearly everyone needs under these circumstances, ”he said

When asked if he thought his office treated Potter’s claim with “best practice”, he said, “I don’t know … I think we can all learn how to better support these things and can support – and that’s why we have an independent review ”

Meanwhile, more women have come forward to accuse them of sexual assault by the same political officer accused of raping Brittany Higgins in the House of Parliament

After a second woman got in touch over the weekend, a third told the Australian that she was attacked as a coalition volunteer during the 2016 election campaign

She was barely leaving school at the time of the alleged attack, which she said had been drinking after spending a night with the then-political officer

Later today, a fourth woman also came forward to accuse of inappropriate sexual behavior by the same political officer accused of raping Brittany Higgins

The woman claims that the former Liberal Party employee reached under the table in a bar in Canberra in 2017 to stroke her thigh

She filed a report with a police station in Canberra and will make a formal statement later this week

The woman checked in with ABC after Brittany Higgins claimed she was raped by the man in 2019 after Brittany Higgins claimed she was raped by the man in 2019
The allegations come as Higgins, who says she was raped in a parliamentary office in 2019, prepares to make a statement to the Australian Federal Police

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Simon Birmingham, Australian Liberal Party, Scott Morrison

News – AU – Birmingham failed to meet with a former employee after hearing allegations of assault – InDaily