Labor must release report into bullying and sexual harassment in Fire Services

Today, the Legislative Council passed a motion moved by the Liberals compelling the Andrews Labor Government to release the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) report into the nature, prevalence, drivers and impacts of discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation in Victoria’s fire services.

This report was commissioned years ago by the Andrews Labor Government, but the United Firefighters Union desperately didn’t want Victorians to read its contents. In fact, they successfully had it suppressed in what can only be described as a disappointing decision by Victoria’s Court of Appeal in October 2018.

But the Parliament has every right to demand and compel production of any document from the government, particularly a taxpayer funded report by a State Government agency. The report is believed to show that many women have complained they don’t have a safe workplace in our fire services.

A similar review is currently being undertaken for Ambulance Victoria by VEOHRC. Ambulance Victoria engaged the Commission to complete an independent review into workplace equality, following reports of alleged discrimination, sexual harassment, victimisation and bullying.

Labor members of the Legislative Council spoke against the release of this important report, undertaken by VEOHRC Commissioner Kristen Hilton. Why the secrecy? What is the government hiding? Or are Labor MPs and ministers fearful of the wrath of UFU Secretary Peter Marshall?

Acting Premier, James Merlino was briefed on this this report in January 2018. The report was funded by taxpayers, and as taxpayers we have every right to read its recommendations to improve behaviour in our fire services.

If this Labor Government has nothing to fear, then there is nothing to hide.

Victorians deserve an open and transparent government – one that values accountability over coverups.

Tim Smith MP

Shadow Minister for Emergency Services

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