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City council to launch sexual harassment inquiry

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Adelaide City Council has voted to proceed with an investigation into the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault at Town Hall, with the behaviour of elected members to also be scrutinised.

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The council will publicly reveal the number of sexual assault and harassment allegations lodged by and against council employees, volunteers, contractors and elected members next month, following a motion put forward by central ward councillor Greg Mackie.

It will also outline how many allegations over the past 10 years were investigated and what action staff took in response.

Mackie’s motion originally excluded councillors and the Lord Mayor from the scope of the inquiry, but south ward councillor Alexander Hyde amended the motion to include elected members.

Area councillor Anne Moran, who has previously voiced concerns about sexism in the council chamber, said it was unlikely that the council “would be the only organisation that didn’t have any problems in this area ever”.

“We should be doing what all the other administrations are doing – looking into their culture of sexual harassment, especially at this time,” she said.

“There have been problems on council over the years and in my opinion they have been dealt with speedily and effectively.

“Our CEOs have told me that they have spent a lot of their time dealing with these matters, so I think it’s time that we really shone the disinfectant of light or public notice onto this.”

Mackie said he was not aware of any specific incidents of sexual harassment or assault taking place.

“This request for a report is not about naming names, (but) it’s vitally important that our employees have confidence in the confidentiality of their access to the… seeking of redress,” he said.

Acting CEO Clare Mockler said the council already had a “raft” of policies that encouraged people to seek assistance if they experienced sexual harassment or assault.

The council voted unanimously in support of the motion.

It follows the release of a damning Equal Opportunity Commission review into harassment in State Parliament.

The survey found eight MPs or political staffers reported being victims of sexual harassment in the last five years.

According to the Commission, six alleged incidents of sexual harassment “might otherwise be considered assault”.

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