The Human Rights Commission failed to adequately address claims of sexual harassment and has a culture of mistrust, according to a government report released this afternoon.
The Ministerial Review of the Human Rights Commission was launched in the wake of 2017 incident which saw one young woman quit her internship after she was groped by an executive at a work party.
Conducted by retired Judge Coral Shaw, the inquiry uncovered systematic failures from the commission and laid out avenues for improvement for the scandal-hit crown entity.
“Her findings reveal a system that failed to provide proper care and support for sexual harassment claims made by staff,” confirmed Justice Minister Andrew Little.
While the report found evidence of some sexual harassment within the commission, Little said it was not a “prevalent or endemic” issue. However, he also pointed out that the policy used to investigate the October 2017 incident was “aged and outdated”.
While a new policy has since been introduced, the report also pointed out that staff members had not been consulted in its creation and a poor relationship between employees and leaders could easily hinder its implementation.
“Staff members’ lack of information and trust in management to deal appropriately with their complaints is a potential impediment to the successful implementation of the Prevention and Response to Sexual harassment 2017 policy,” said Little.
“There is a deep divide between some staff and some managers and a lack of trust in the management and the commissioners among some staff,” he continued.
Little also noted that he is currently awaiting advice form the Ministry of Justice and will meet with the State Services Commission later today to discuss the next steps in implementing the report’s recommendations.