Kate Jenkins retains commissioner role amid parliamentary work

By Naomi Neilson|05 April 2021
Kate Jenkins

New Attorney-General Michaelia Cash has reappointed Kate Jenkins commissioner of the Australian Human Rights Commission following the announcement that she will be leading an independent inquiry into workplace culture at Parliament House.

Kate Jenkins will continue in her position as Sex Discrimination Commissioner, while colleague the Honourable Kay Patterson AO will also retain her role as the Age Discrimination Commissioner. The two reappointments will enable them to continue their important work at the commission, Ms Cash said in the announcement. 

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Ms Jenkins has led a number of projects during her time at the commission, including its collaborative project on cultural reform within the Australian Defence Force and the world-first National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces, culminated in the widely used [email protected] report.

Over her next tenure period, Ms Jenkins will continue to support the government’s implementation of the report’s recommendations. She will also be leading the independent inquiry into Parliament House’s workplace culture, sparked by Brittany Higgin’s allegations of rape by a colleague in one of its offices. 

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“We recognise the significant public interest in this issue and the need to ensure matters will be treated with sensitivity, confidentiality and trauma-informed,” Ms Jenkins commented on the inquiry. “I urge every staff member to share their experiences with us via a confidential written submission or interview.”

Dr Patterson has been focusing on the rights of older workers, elder abuse and the risk of homelessness among older Australians. She will be running several projects in the area of older workers and will continue work to implement recommendations from the Willing to Work: National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability report. 

Additionally, Dr Patterson is working with various stakeholders to develop innovative solutions to assist the rapidly growing group of older women facing homelessness. 

“Continuity in this role is important at this time as the government considers the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety,” Ms Cash said.

Kate Jenkins retains commissioner role amid parliamentary work
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