Former political staffer and women’s safety and equality advocate Brittany Higgins has been appointed as the inaugural Visiting Fellow at The Australian National University’s Global Institute for Women’s Leadership (GIWL).

As part of GIWL, Ms Higgins will help advance work on a proposed code of conduct to prevent and respond to abuse, harassment and sexual misconduct in Parliament House and parliamentary workplaces.

Ms Higgins will also collaborate with GIWL on other key issues, including the implementation of the Respect@Work report, advancing the outcomes of the Independent Inquiry into the Commonwealth’s Parliamentary Workplaces expected in November 2021 and highlighting the importance of young women’s leadership.

“In Brittany, Australia has an incredible leader who is already having a profound impact.”

Julia Gillard

GIWL at ANU is a non-partisan organisation that undertakes cutting-edge research and advocacy driven by evidence to support women’s leadership and improve workplace gender equality.

ANU is the first university in the world to partner with the original Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London, established and led by former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Ms Gillard said Ms Higgins was “a powerful force for change who had already greatly advanced the national conversation and push for reform in one of the most confronting and urgent issues Australia faces”.

“In Brittany, Australia has an incredible leader who is already having a profound impact,” Ms Gillard said.

“I applaud her courage in coming forward with her experiences, and her determination to make sure other women do not ever have to go through what she has.

“Her bravery should and must lead to meaningful change, not only in our workplaces, but across all our society.

“Brittany will be a wonderful advocate and I am delighted she has joined GIWL and ANU. I look forward to working with her and other members of the global GIWL team on these vital issues.”

Ms Higgins said she was looking forward to working as a conduit between Government, academics and those in the field to ensure best practice models are adopted to bring about systemic change in Australia.

“I am dedicated to driving meaningful change in Parliament House, and all Australian workplaces, so that our systems work better to prevent and respond to inappropriate workplace conduct.

“All women have the right to feel safe and respected at work and in society more broadly.

“The 2021 Women’s Safety Summit was a great first step to addressing these challenges. Now more than ever in the midst of growing inequality as a result of COVID-19, it’s important to ensure words are translated into action.

“I am committed to ensuring that we are able to harness the momentum kickstarted this year to enact real change for Australian women so they can be better served by our major institutions.”

Brittany Higgins (centre), with former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (left) and Director of GIWL at ANU Professor Michele Ryan. Photo: Jamie Kidston/ANU

Director of GIWL at ANU, Professor Michele Ryan said young voices like Ms Higgins’ were fundamental to driving real change.

“Sexual harassment, sexual assault, inequality, abuse: these are issues women have been confronting in the workplace and society for too long,” Professor Ryan said.

“But Brittany is a voice for change who will not only help advance the case for reform in Australia but who will inspire a new generation of women to keep demanding nothing less than what they are all owed: respect.

“We shouldn’t have to demand it. But we are fortunate to have young leaders like Brittany while we still do.

“GIWL at ANU undertakes research, advocacy and practice to improve workplace gender equality and accelerate women’s leadership. We have a world-class research team building the evidence base and finding out what works.

“As our inaugural Visiting Fellow, Brittany Higgins will help us in our advocacy to ensure the evidence and research we produce reaches a broader audience and is able to be transformed into policy change and better workplace practice.”

For more information about the ANU Global Institute for Women’s Leadership visit:
https://giwl.anu.edu.au/

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