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Andrew Brown

Albanese pledge on domestic violence and harassment

Anthony Albanese and ministers attended a UN Women's breakfast function at Parliament House. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Anthony Albanese has led calls to lift workplace standards in Parliament House after delivering a commitment on domestic violence.

The prime minister used an International Women's Day speech to commit to ending violence against women and children.

Afterwards, he reflected on sexual harassment and bullying inside parliament, marking the two-year anniversary of a major report.

The Set the Standard report was handed down in 2022 following widespread reports of harassment, sexual assault and bullying of parliamentary staff.

As MPs and senators vowed to make Parliament House a safer workplace, a report by the Parliamentary Leadership Taskforce showed 13 of the report's 28 recommendations had been implemented.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
Mr Albanese said the workplace culture of Parliament House needed to change for the better. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Of the remaining recommendations, six were partly been implemented, eight in progress and one pending.

Mr Albanese said the workplace culture of Parliament House needed to change for the better.

"The more that parliament looks like modern Australia, the better, better for the culture and better for our democracy," he said.

"Parliament is a unique workplace, of course it is, but it must be a safe workplace. The culture here will never be normal or typical, but it can and must be respectful."

Women's Minister Katy Gallagher said while there had been many reforms since the original report, including the establishment of a parliamentary workplace support service, there was more work to do.

"We once again acknowledge that we can and must do better, and reiterate our ongoing commitment to making those changes," she said.

"As a parliament, we committed to do better, acknowledging that while we should be a workplace that leads by example, it was not at the time the report was handed down."

The task force aimed to set up an independent parliamentary standards commission by October.

However, the commission's establishment was delayed by a year, with the original deadline earmarked for October 2023.

Greens senator Larissa Waters said the body was needed immediately.

"Without this body, bad behaviour continues to go unchecked, we know that without real prospects that an MP will be sanctioned, staff are reluctant to come forward, consequences are crucial," she said.

Greens senator Larissa Waters
A parliamentary standards commission was needed immediately, Greens senator Larissa Waters said. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

"I know that work to set up the independent parliamentary standards commission is complex, but there is no doubt that it has been much too slow, inexcusably so."

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said those in parliament were expected to abide by high standards.

"The Australian public's confidence and trust in this parliament and in the bureaucracy is directly connected with the conduct of all of those who have the privilege to serve their fellow Australians," he said.

"We must ensure we don't just set the standard but that we continue in our personal and collective efforts to maintain and elevate the standard."

Earlier, he and the prime minister attend a UN Women's breakfast function in parliament's Mural Hall.

Mr Albanese said while Australia had improved on gender equality measures, there was still considerable work to do.

"We must recognise that gender equality, while essential, does not safeguard against family violence on its own," he said.

"Even nations that lead the world on measures of gender equality are dealing with their own shocking rates of violence. 

"Some of it, in the cruellest of ironies, occurring as a reaction to the progress being made."

UN Women Australia chair Georgina Williams said the empowerment of women led to considerable economic benefit.

"Women's economic empowerment has such a large impact on an individual country's enduring economic, health, education, and political and cultural stability success measures," she said.

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