The year before Brittany Higgins' reported sexual assault in the office of then Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds, the Human Rights Commission contracted Roy Morgan to research sexual harassment in Australian workplaces.
This national survey indicated that one in three Australians have experienced sexual harassment at work in the last five years, and that 23 per cent of women and 16 per cent of men had experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment in the last 12 months.
The majority of people who acknowledged that they had been sexually harassed at work, did not report it or seek support - in fact only 17 per cent made a formal complaint.
Of those who did, almost one in five were "labelled a troublemaker, ostracised, victimised or ignored by colleagues."
Furthermore, 45 per cent of those who reported the incident/s said there was no change at the organisation following the report.
Is it therefore any wonder that Ms Higgins didn't push for a police investigation at the time of the alleged attack on her?
The ABC reported that Ms Higgins felt "ostracised, and that she had become a political liability as a result of the attack on her," and that she was made to feel that it would affect her job - a feeling that is not uncommon in Australian workplaces it would seem.
Reports have since come to light of new claims of sexual harassment and assault at Parliament House, and within the public service, further highlighting the lack of accountability in political circles.
But given that these outcomes appear to be found across industries in the Australian workforce, it is clear that it certainly isn't an issue particular to our political helm, just perhaps more shocking in this domain.
If alleged victims aren't respected at the core of our Australian capital, how does this set the example for the rest of the nation's workplaces? Poorly, if effectively, it would seem.
This has me thinking about why we choose to protect perpetrators over victims of sexual harassment and assault?
Why is it OK to victimise and ostracise the one who has been injured and shield and "give the benefit of the doubt" to the person who has caused the injury?
Is this a stoic commitment to innocent until proven guilty, a concept rarely extended to perpetrators of other crimes if parliamentary records and the media are to be believed?
Sherry Hamby, professor of psychology at Sewanee University spoke to The Guardian in the US about this phenomenon.
She said: "There's just this really powerful urge for people to want to think good things happen to good people and where the misperception comes in is that there's this implied opposite: if something bad has happened to you, you must have done something bad to deserve that bad thing."
This is what is called "just-world bias." In this light, it's clear why society's first questions in situations like this are about the victim, to try and find something "wrong" with them.
In believing that bad things only happen to bad people, we can kid ourselves into believing that as long as we do the right thing, and are inherently "good," bad things won't happen to us.
Of course, there can be no justification and bad things don't only happen to bad people. So why do we persist with this illusion?
The #MeToo movement has shown there is strength in numbers; that when people stand together, the truth - no matter how ugly - cannot be unseen.
It is therefore unsurprising that since the public report of Ms Higgins' alleged attack, more people have come forward to share their experiences of toxicity in the parliamentary workplace.
Our Parliament needs to be held to a higher standard, to set the bar for the rest of the country.
That the structure of employment contracts at Parliament House seems to create a "lawless bubble", to borrow MP Zali Steggall's term, and diminish ministerial accountability for staffers' actions, is an appalling affront to the Australian people.
They should be representing the best of us.
When our lawmakers cannot be held to account for the lawlessness of their own offices, when the example they set for workplaces everywhere is one of stealthy deceit and covered-up victimisation, how can they expect to hold anyone else to a lawful standard?
Our Parliament House needs to do better. And be better.
- If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. For help, phone Lifeline 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
Zoë Wundenberg is a careers consultant and un/employment advocateat impressability.com.au