elizabeth broderick – Michmutters

Release of NSW Broderick report into toxic culture was dehumanizing, advocate for sexual assault survivors says

The release of the report into the workplace culture in NSW Parliament was “dehumanizing” and “frustrating”, a former Liberal staffer and advocate for sexual assault survivors says.

Dhanya Mani, who publicly aired allegations of indecent assault against a colleague in 2019, said the report had been handed down with no survivors present.

Conducted by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, the investigation lifted the lid on a “toxic” culture in state parliament.

It found one in three staff had experienced bullying or sexual harassment in the past five years.

Three men and two women reported they had been subjected to an actual or attempted sexual assault at work.

“The optics of this report being released, showed MPs controlling the conversation with survivors completely omitted from that picture,” Ms Mani said.

“It was just something that was very dehumanizing and frustrating. If anything it feeds into these troubling power dynamics that Broderick and her team spoke about in their reports.

“Where they said the power imbalance between staff and MPs was a leading driver that underpins the causes for misconduct.”

a woman walking up a set of stairs
Almost 450 people working at the NSW Parliament responded to a survey.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

Hearing their experiences being addressed would have been a first for many survivors, Ms Mani said, and leaders of political parties missed an opportunity to stand with them.

As the only survivor advocate representative on the parliamentary advisory group into sexual harassment, bullying and misconduct, she felt particularly aggrieved with the political leaders.

“I’m mystified that neither leader reached out to me in my capacity in that role, to consult on their statements or the way in which they wanted to approach their responses to this report being handed down,” she said.

“To feel that, even when I’m here that I’m not being seen, that my expertise isn’t really been utilized, just makes me also feel really traumatized.”

Almost 450 people working at the NSW parliament responded to a survey which found widespread bullying and everyday sexism.

The report found the human cost of the abuse was high with staff describing the impact on their mental health, their relationships and their career as “devastating”.