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AFP Commissioner Says It's Time To Expose Sexual Harassment Within The Force

Independent review reveals sexual harassment was almost double the national average.

22/08/2016 7:48 PM AEST | Updated August 22, 2016 21:16
Fairfax
Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin says "it is time to expose" sexual harassment and bullying in the AFP.

The Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin says there is "zero tolerance" for sexual harassment as an independent review found incidences in the force were almost double the national average.

Former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick conducted the six month study on inclusion and diversity within the AFP, which found 46 percent of women and 20 percent of men reported being sexually harassed within the past five years.

Speaking on The 7:30 Report on Monday night, Colvin said the figures are not something he is proud of, which is why the AFP has made the review public.

"Society has issues as well, and I think the AFP has shown through this report that we are a representation of some of those poor behaviours," Colvin told Leigh Sales on the program.

"Now, that's not an excuse, and that's the reason why we've come out so strongly today to expose this report, to make it very public and to say that we will do something about it."

The Commissioner has appointed Assistant Commissioner Ray Johnson to head up a new division in the AFP, the Cultural Reform Board, which will address change within the organisation. The board will include a gender-balanced group of 15 members.

This is one of the 24 recommendations made by Elizabeth Broderick in the review, which revealed more than 66 percent of women and 62 percent of men reported being a victim of bullying in the past five years.

"We will put in place a safe place -- an area that people can bring these allegations to us with confidence to know they will be dealt with compassionately and confidentially," Colvin said.

"They can get advice and seek support. We haven't had that type of environment in the AFP before, and what's clear from our members is they have told us that the formal reporting mechanisms aren't working -- they don't feel confident in them and we have to change them."

The Commissioner said leadership at all levels of the organisation and a "deep commitment" will be mandatory to changing the culture effectively.

"I think what we're seeing is that in organisations like the Australian Federal Police, organisations that are particularly male-dominated, organisations that also have command and control as a principal part of the way they operate, these behaviours can sometimes be masked, they can be hidden, and it is time that we expose them and that's what we're doing," Colvin said.

"Today marks the beginning of an era for the AFP where we will improve. We have proven over many years that we are up to the challenges presented to us in a modern policing environment, but we can be better. And diversity of all forms will make us a better organisation."

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