Rebekha joins March4Justice rally
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie stepped out with Members of Parliament from all sides of politics to support the women's #March4Justice on the lawns outside Australian Parliament today.
"It is the responsibility of every elected member to listen to the voices of the thousands who have gathered around the nation to say enough is enough when it comes to gender discrimination and safety for women from sexual assault," Rebekha said.
A total of 35 rallies were held in cities and regional centres across Australia at noon as part of a nationwide protest calling for an end to sexual harassment and gendered violence in workplaces.
The rallies were inspired by one of the original organisers, Melbourne academic Janine Hendry (pictured with Rebekha) who recently posted a Tweet asking how many “extremely disgruntled” women it would take to link arms around Parliament House and stand in silent protest against discrimination and alleged sexual abuse in the nation’s Parliament.
Ms Hendry told the media her Tweet was sparked by the public debate around gendered violence including the Government's handling of the alleged rape of a former Liberal staffer in Parliament House, historical rape allegations against a Federal Minister and testimonies of harassment and assault from former schoolgirls collected by Chanel Contos.
At the Canberra event, a First Nations Elder sang a traditional song in honour of anyone affected by gendered violence. The video is on YouTube here.
Private Members' Bill
Prior to the March4Justice, Rebekha attended a press conference to support a Private Members' Bill introduced this morning by the Member for Warringah Zali Steggall to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to ensure sexual harassment is illegal in all circumstances.
Under the current law, MPs, judges and other statutory appointees are not clearly protected from, or liable for sexual harassment in their workplace. The Sex Discrimination Amendment (Prohibiting All Sexual Harassment) Bill seeks to amend that.
"All Members of Parliament need to listen, but we can also act," Rebekha said.
"Today my Crossbench colleague Zali Steggall introduced a Private Members' Bill to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to ensure sexual harassment is illegal in ALL circumstances. At present, MPs and judges and other statutory appointees are not liable for sexual harassment in their workplace. In light of the public conversation in recent weeks, closing this loophole would be a sensible first step. I call on the Government to debate this Bill."
You can read more about the Bill here.
You can watch Rebekha at the press conference here.