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Brittany Higgins will ask PM, Opposition leader to protect political staff

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Changing the toxic workplace culture will be on the agenda when former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins meets with political leaders today.

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A decision by Ms Higgins to go public about her alleged rape in a ministerial office at Parliament House sparked national rallies about the mistreatment of women.

She will meet with the prime minister and Labor’s Anthony Albanese in Sydney as the leaders seek to cooperate on reforms.

Higgins says the system failed her and she wants “a new framework for political staff that ensures genuine cultural change and restores the trust of staff”.

Ministerial and parliamentary staff are owed a “significant review” into their working conditions and how they can be improved, she said in a statement earlier this year.

She is concerned political advisers have few protections, resources and confidential reporting mechanisms to address workplace issues, as they are not public servants and work in an extremely high-pressure environment.

Key to any change is reform of the Members of Parliament Staff (MOPS) Act, which Higgins says does not offer adequate workplace protections and conditions for staffers.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins has been tasked with reviewing parliamentary workplaces, including the operation of the MOPS Act.

After taking evidence and submissions, she is expected to provide an interim report in July and final recommendations in November.

Political parties are also overhauling their complaints reporting systems.

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