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Parliament staffers to log after-hours access

Parliament House in Canberra
Staffers entering Parliament House after-hours will need to register in a new safety trial. Photo: Getty
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A trial monitoring federal government staffers who visit Parliament House after hours is under way, following an alleged staffer rape in 2019.

Leanne Tunningley, from the security branch of the parliamentary services department, told a Senate estimates committee on Monday the trial began last month and records all political staffers accessing the building between 11pm and 5am.

Workers will need to complete paper forms when entering parliament, with their manager or parliamentarian to be notified the next business day.

Ms Tunningley said parliamentarians could also “opt out” of receiving the information, with the record to be held by the department.

The trial will run when parliament is sitting, and will end in November this year.

It comes in response to a review led by senior government official Stephanie Foster into whether reporting arrangements for sexual assault and harassment were adequate.

The move followed revelations of the alleged rape of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins in March 2019 in the office of then Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

Ms Higgins in May last year said: “Honestly, regular licensed venues have more strenuous entry conditions and duty of care to their patrons than Parliament House has to their own staff.”

The federal government adopted all 10 of Ms Foster’s recommendations, including the establishment of an independent sexual complaints body for federal politicians and staffers.

The Independent Review of Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, released in November 2021, found one in three people working at Parliament House had been sexually harassed, with bullying also rife.