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Saturday Paper How the Greens failed me over rape.pdf


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1/31/2018

Exclusive: How the Greens failed me over rape | The Saturday Paper

Perhaps my understanding of “failure to co-operate” was different. I attended a meeting with a volunteer who was the leader
of the party’s grievance resolution group, to whom I provided a detailed account of my assault and the events preceding it. I
spoke with an independent reviewer, to whom I provided the same account. I confirmed, in a phone call and in writing, with
the deputy convenor of the party, that I wished a friend to advocate for me in a meeting. My friend did so and again shared this
same account of the events. I continued to attend meetings, vote on resolutions, volunteer on the election. I would consider
this co-operation. I did so in the belief that following the ACT election result there would be a shift in priorities and my
concerns would be addressed. I thought action would be taken to ensure my safety and the safety of women in the party.
Instead, those in charge continued to challenge the validity of my claims and ignore those requests made by myself and my
supporters. From that moment forward, each leader began to deny knowledge of what had happened and adopted the rhetoric
that I was belligerent and unwilling to co-operate.
At that point, I lost complete faith in the party and their internal processes. I took my complaint to Fair Work ACT, the
Human Rights Commission, Volunteering and Contact ACT, and finally the Australian Federal Police.
As a volunteer, I fell outside the jurisdiction of government review bodies.
Police didn’t like my “odds”. There had been no documentation by the party of the assault or the preceding harassment to
verify my statement. Time had passed and there was no physical evidence.
 
In December, an independent review was commissioned by the party to cover both the federal and territory election
campaigns, with a mandate to speak with those involved and make recommendations to the party as to potential
improvements. I was at first excluded from participation in this review. Other campaigners who had the same responsibilities
as I had were included.
My advocates fought for my inclusion and I was allowed to explain my campaign experience and the circumstances of my
assault and its subsequent handling with the reviewer. The review revealed three “critical incidents” that occurred during the
campaigns, of which my assault was one. It recommended apologies. Those apologies were not forthcoming until media
reports drew attention to their non-existence in July. This was more than five months after the recommendations were made,
and a full year after senior party leaders were informed in writing of the incident.
The release of the review was highly secretive. A single hard copy of the report was available to be read, by appointment, in an
office under the supervision of a party representative. Only registered members were eligible to read it. This excluded those
individuals who had volunteered, and even contributed to the review, but had since left the party on their own grievance. One
such individual was the primary witness to my assault, who had left the party in horror at the handling of my complaint and
his own personal treatment for being outspoken in support. To me, this demonstrates the lengths the party were willing to go
to when their reputations are on the line. It stands in stark contrast to the very little effort they would put into protecting their
members or volunteers, and the lack of interest in protecting my safety and facilitating my healing process. Again, action was
only taken to support me once allegations were made public and reputations were on the line.
This belief was reinforced later, when email correspondence between Sophie Trevitt, former party convener, convener of the
election campaign team and well-respected and influential member of the party, and the current party convener Michael
Mazengarb, was shown to me. In this email, Trevitt suggested that all references to “sexual assault” be edited from the
independent review. She called reference to my assault and the party’s response “very damning”. About the same time, Trevitt
and Mazengarb told the membership that there was never any contemplation that the report would be edited. It would be
given to the party in the form it was written by the reviewer. An additional review written by a supporter of mine, who was a
staffer, was excluded from the package of campaign reviews, which contained election reviews from each of her colleagues. It
was represented to the party that her account had never existed. It had – they simply chose to omit it. It also detailed the
failures of the party to respond to the “critical incidents”, including this colleague’s own experience of bullying and
harassment.
 
Not all rape culture leads to rape, but this time it did.
My experience shows me the Greens expect sexual assault survivors to put “community first” and keep quiet time and time
again, whenever acknowledging their failures could damage carefully cultivated reputations, and perhaps complicate the next
election. I use survivors in the plural intentionally. I’ve learnt of similar stories in other states, some of which have been made
public and some which have not.

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2017/12/23/exclusive-how-the-greens-failed-me-over-rape/15139476005690

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