The ACT Greens strongly abhor sexual and other assault. It is in contradiction to our values, and it has been distressing for the party that this issue has arisen within our membership.
The ACT Greens wish to make the following public statements regarding a complaint related to incidents during the 2016 election campaign:
- That there were serious errors in the ACT Greens' complaint handling resulting in significant harm to those involved.
- That the ACT Greens does not endorse the comments made by Bob Brown in response to the victim's anonymous article that appeared in the Saturday Paper and that the ACT Greens condemns victim-blaming of sexual assault survivors.
- That the ACT Greens acknowledges that it has a duty of care to volunteer and paid staff and that it is committed to providing a safe environment for all its members and that the ACT Greens acknowledge that their past policies and procedures have not adequately protected vulnerable members of the community who assist and volunteer with them.
Since the end of the 2016 election campaign, ACT Greens have made significant changes to their structure, policies, and procedures to make the organisation safer for members and volunteers, and improve responses if an incident impacting safety were to occur. These include:
- Training for staff and volunteers in how to manage workplace bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace has begun, with the first group receiving training in February 2018. Additional training sessions will be run until all relevant staff and volunteers have been trained.
- Consent Matters online training for volunteers and members commenced in February 2018. This is the same training used by Australian universities to help improve understanding of consent in sexual situations.
- A training workshop/seminar on inappropriate workplace behaviour, specific to ACT Greens workplaces, is being looked into for the next campaign. The aim is to provide an understanding of the code of conduct, policies and procedures, relevant contacts, and responsibilities we have to each other.
- Volunteer Code of Conduct will be agreed to by volunteers who are working on a campaign before their work begins.
- Code of conduct for members, and a management committee with formal authority to ensure members adhere to it.
- New Constitution from October 2017, including establishment of an Arbitration and Conciliation Committee, supported by a Support and Mediation Group with professional skills in facilitation and mediation. This body operates at arm's length from the Management Committee and is tasked with hearing and attempting to resolve complaints and grievances before they escalate. The Arbitration and Conciliation Committee can make recommendations for the suspension or expulsion of members if necessary, and can also be authorised to engage an independent, external professional to investigate the Party's response to complaints or grievances.
- Wellbeing Officers are in the process of being appointed, and will provide a first point of contact for volunteers who need support or advice. They will form part of the Support and Mediation Group, but with a more proactive role in looking out for volunteers and staff during campaigns.
- We have an online form to make it easy for a volunteer or staff member to report an incident affecting health and safety.
- Resources to provide support to volunteers are being produced and will be provided to volunteers on campaigns (eg policies and procedures, incident reporting form, contacts for Wellbeing Officers, Support and Mediation Group, Arbitration and Conciliation Committee, Management Committee, and other key staff and roles).
- Insurance - we now have the right insurance policies to cover staff, volunteers and Directors for future campaigns.