A damning Equal Opportunity Commission review has found sexual harassment is prevalent in South Australia’s Parliament, with eight people reporting being victims of sexual harassment by MPs or their staff in the past five years.

Key points:

  • Eight people have reported sexual harassment by MPs or their staff in the South Australian Parliament, a report has found
  • The Equal Opportunity Commissioner’s report found allegations of sexually suggestive and unwelcome comments, indecent exposure, and physical assault
  • Allegations against Liberal MP Sam Duluk, along with Parliament’s workplace culture, prompted the investigation

Allegations outlined in the report by the Acting Equal Opportunity Commissioner Emily Strickland include sexually suggestive comments, indecent exposure and physical assault.

The review of parliamentary behaviour was ordered last year, after Liberal MP Sam Duluk was outed for inappropriate behaviour at a Christmas Party in Parliament House.

He apologised, but was later banished from the Liberal Party, when he was charged with assaulting SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros.

The Equal Opportunity Commission surveyed parliamentary staff, receiving a response from about a quarter of them.

South Australian acting Equal Opportunity Commissioner Emily Strickland.(

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“27.1 per cent of survey respondents reported they had experienced sexual harassment in the parliamentary workplace,” the report stated.

“Six interview participants and two participants who made written submissions described being victims of sexual harassment in the last five years, and all of those alleged incidents involved either Members of Parliament or staff of Members of Parliament as perpetrators.”

One interview participant recalled an experience with an unnamed person.

“You don’t want to be sitting next to him when he has had some drinks,” the participant said.

About a third of respondents reported being the subject of offensive comments or jokes about a personal attribute protected by equal opportunity legislation.

SA Attorney-General Vicki Chapman moved a motion requesting a review of harassment in the parliamentary workplace last year.(

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Almost half of these discriminatory harassment incidents were identified as a pattern of behaviour that had been ongoing for more than a year.

Interview participants reported disrespectful remarks based on race and age, and sexist attitudes that were reflected in work practices.

Several also suggested they received unfavourable treatment on the basis of protected attributes.

The Acting Commissioner Emily Strickland said the findings were not unique to the South Australian Parliament, with international reports indicating that harassing behaviours were common in parliaments in the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA and Europe.

She said the cultures of those parliaments enabled the prevalence of problematic behaviours.

“The fact that political institutions are far from immune from unacceptable, unlawful behaviours is disturbing,” Ms Strickland said.

“However, they are also the places that can and should lead change in this area.”

The Acting Commissioner has made 16 recommendations to address the problems including training for MPs and staff, a new centralised parliamentary human resources division, and a code of conduct for MPs.

An MP Code of Conduct has been recommended by successive ICAC Commissioners, but the proposal has been repeatedly rejected by the State Government, with Premier Steven Marshall reconfirming his opposition to a code of conduct as recently as last week.