Queensland public servants are facing sexual misconduct and bullying on a daily basis, and only a fraction of such complaints are resulting in disciplinary action.
Figures obtained by 7NEWS have revealed staff reported unwelcome attention of a sexual nature 140 times in the past financial year – which equates to two complaints a week on average.
In the previous financial year, 158 sexual misconduct complaints were made.
The statistics from the Public Service Commission have been obtained by 7NEWS after a Right To Information request.
The behaviour, which was defined as actions or comments of a sexual nature where a person felt offended, humiliated or intimidated, resulted in six people being fired.
Twenty-one people were suspended with pay and one was suspended without pay.
The figures were even worse when it came to bullying complaints.
More than 600 incidents were recorded in the past two years, none of which resulted in job terminations.
But nine employees were suspended with pay, 28 faced discipline and 112 faced action from management.
The staggering figures are just the tip of the iceberg, according to the union representing public servants.
“Sadly, we’re probably still getting an underreported number of cases,” Together Union assistant secretary Kate Flanders said.
“We know that women are still not only coming forward in the numbers that are experiencing it.
“I know, as a union officer, the number of workers I speak to who say I don’t want to make a formal complaint, but (say) ‘this is what is happening to me’.”
Public Service Commission Chief Executive Robert Setter said the Queensland public sector had a “zero tolerance for sexual harassment or bullying in the workplace”.
A 7NEWS Right to Information request was also made to the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Office of the Premier about the extent of sexual misconduct and bullying in ministerial offices.
Both agencies refused to release any information.
7NEWS contacted the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s office on Tuesday asking for de-identified details of the incidents but did not receive a response by the time of broadcast.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Palaszczuk called on the Prime Minister to hold a National Women’s summit addressing issues of gender inequity in the workplace and sexual harassment.
“To look at actions to address the gender pay gap … affordable childcare – huge issue out there,” she said.
“I also think issues of sexual harassment in the workplace is really important.”
When 7NEWS asked whether she was aware that there were instances of sexual misconduct and bullying in ministerial offices, the premier said she wasn’t.
But her office later on Tuesday issued a statement saying she was aware of two complaints, neither pertained to a “sexual assault” and they were being independently addressed by the department.
She urged any public servants who felt they had been harassed or mistreated to come forward.
On Wednesday, Palaszczuk also announced she would appoint a public equity officer to deal with the complaints.
Opposition women’s spokeswoman Ros Bates said the government needed to be open, transparent and honest with Queenslanders on these issues.
“Clearly there is a rotten culture within the public service and the Premier’s unwillingness to clean up this mess shows how out of touch she is,” she said.
“You can’t fix the problem if you’re not willing to talk about it.”