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MPs Are Finally Getting Anti-Sexual Assault Training… But It’s Optional

It's also only an hour long.

sexual assault

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The Federal Government is seeking an organisation to train MPs about sexual assault, harassment and bullying. The training will only last an hour and be optional, according to the ABC. By contrast, junior staffers will attend a potentially mandatory two-hour session.

The need for training was established following the slate of sexual assault allegations earlier this year – including that of former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins – all of which sparked national rallies against this kind of bullshit.

Following Higgins’ allegations, Prime Minister Scot Morrison established a review of procedures “in identifying, reporting and responding to serious incidents that occur during parliamentary employment.” This training is part of a “trauma-informed support system” in response to the review.

 

The anti-sexual harassment training won’t start until September, will be done face-to-face and use practical examples. Trainers will need to “demonstrate adaptability and flexibility, given differences across parliamentary offices and differing levels of awareness”.

By the end of the course, students should ultimately understand what does and doesn’t constitute “assault, sexual assault, sexual harassment and serious and systemic bullying and harassment.”

It will also address how to prevent, report, and support someone impacted. Apparently pilot sessions are already taking place in parliamentary offices.

This is not the first time we’ve heard of MPs needing training in… ah, general decency? Earlier this year, Andrew Lamming, member of the Liberal National Party of Queensland, was prescribed with empathy training, after repeatedly harassing women IRL and online. Lamming was temporarily stood down, and made to apologise.

But is one hour of optional training enough to fix what some have called a toxic culture?