‘Old-fashioned and inappropriate’: Staff survey pulls back curtain on culture of WA Parliament

Almost half of the people working at WA’s Parliament House have seen or experienced “inappropriate behaviour”, while almost one third have seen or experienced discrimination.

A confidential staff survey sighted by WAtoday found almost half of respondents had witnessed or experienced inappropriate behaviour in the past 12 months — and one-quarter said it was management behaving badly.

‘old-fashioned and inappropriate’: staff survey pulls back curtain on culture of wa parliament

The survey was commissioned by the heads of department at Parliament House to improve workplace culture, flexibility and employee well-being.

About 27 per cent had witnessed or experienced discrimination by a colleague or management.

Of those who reported the behaviour, less than one-quarter were satisfied with the response.

Almost half of the respondents did not believe parliament was a mentally safe workplace and one-third believed there was inadequate support available.

The survey, by Nedlands-based consultant Data Analysis Australia, was commissioned by the heads of department at Parliament House in late 2022 as part of a pledge to improve workplace culture.

About 62 per cent of parliamentary staff (126 people) responded to the survey, which was released to those working for the Legislative Council, the Legislative Assembly and the Parliamentary Services Department and formally delivered in August 2023.

The review shed light on the culture at parliament house, canvassing the issues facing employees and laying bare tensions between staff and management.

Poor or antiquated management practices were a common theme, with the dislike and distrust of parliament managers deemed among the most significant issue to emerge from the review.

The majority of respondents indicated they did not feel management behaved with integrity and were good role models, while less than half believed the workplace had clearly defined values.

The survey revealed some staff members believed their managers appeared “untrained”, did not listen to or respect staff views, did not deal with issues in a timely manner, had limited world experience as “career staffers” and that parliament was too top-heavy.

“Parliament is not diverse. It does not represent the community.”

Anonymous respondent, Parliament WA Workplace Culture Survey.

Data Analysis Australia concluded the lower house had a distinctly poorer culture, and staff believed members of parliament received “priority treatment”.

“The workplace culture is still like it was in corporations in the 70s,” one respondent commented.

“The culture can be quite old-fashioned,” another wrote.

“Parliament is not diverse. It does not represent the community,” said another.

Most staff members also did not believe there was a collaborative working relationship between departments, revealing there was often “pointless” and “infuriating” competition between the parliamentary chambers, which were operating in silos.

And more than half did not believe the appropriate people were consulted before decisions were made.

“Departments are not just separated, they are in some ways estranged,” one respondent said.

More than one in 10 staff believed the human resources department was more concerned with checking boxes than providing staff support and did not follow its own rules.

However, the overwhelming majority of staff still enjoyed working at parliament, with 80 per cent of respondents relishing being the frontline for WA’s public sector and seeing democracy up close. They would still recommend it as a place to work.

They cited their colleagues, professional development opportunities, flexible working conditions and facility perks among key drawcards.

And there was a clear sense of camaraderie among those of similar seniority.

But not all staff were convinced they could carve out a career there based solely on performance, with almost one-third believing job opportunities were handed out based on relationships, and less than half felt challenged or utilised to their full potential.

In a statement prepared by Parliamentary Services, a spokesperson said the survey was undertaken with the goal of creating a workplace of choice after COVID and had prompted a suite of changes, from a broadened wellbeing services offering to an overhaul of internal policies.

In the months since, Parliament House has established working groups to aid the improvement process, encouraged greater inclusion and diversity, increased the frequency of communication workshops, improved cross-department synergies and delivered leadership and mental health training.

“Although the survey results identified some areas of concern it showed that most of our staff were satisfied with their jobs, which we regard as significant,” the spokesperson said.

“We believe the high level of staff satisfaction is because of our working conditions including our facilities and flexible work practices.

“Additionally, the professional development opportunities, camaraderie with colleagues, dealing with matters of public interest and a sense that their roles contribute to something that matters, are factors, too.

“The level of satisfaction among our staff is not common for most workplaces and very few workplaces could attest to an average length of tenure of 12 years.”

It is understood key findings from six questions concerning members of parliament were excluded from the report and provided directly to the three heads of department.

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

OTHER NEWS

56 minutes ago

FAA and union agree to give air traffic control workers more rest between shifts

56 minutes ago

TV boss Kevin Lygo slams 'peculiar' way BBC used huge TV audiences during the Euros to plug old American shows like Suits and Gossip Girl over homegrown British content

56 minutes ago

Video: 'The view from hell': Couple's £2,000 trip to Cyprus is ruined by building site that stopped them having 'tea and biscuits on the balcony' because they didn't want to look at 'scaffolding and netting'

56 minutes ago

Ohio law limiting disabled voter assistance overturned

56 minutes ago

Sony Pictures Television Brings First-Look Deal With Spanish Producer Espotlight Into Focus

56 minutes ago

Global shares tumble after a wipeout on Wall Street as Big Tech retreats

56 minutes ago

How Joe Root compares as he closes in on Brian Lara on Test run-scorers list

56 minutes ago

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: ‘France will always have a special place in my heart’

56 minutes ago

Emily Ford focused on Paris and cups of tea – but ready for changes in LA

56 minutes ago

Enzo Maresca defends high-risk Chelsea style after draw against Wrexham

56 minutes ago

Natalie Cassidy says she still calls herself ‘ugly’ after being bullied as a child

56 minutes ago

Céline Dion and Lady Gaga to perform at Olympics opening ceremony

56 minutes ago

Andy Murray withdraws from singles to focus on doubles at Paris Olympics

56 minutes ago

Several flights between S’pore and Fuzhou, Manila, Taipei cancelled due to Typhoon Gaemi

56 minutes ago

Allegations related to Venice corruption probe ‘unfounded and untrue’: Oxley CEO

56 minutes ago

Actress Shu Qi has craving for takeaway food during typhoon in Taiwan

56 minutes ago

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare on Prime Video review: Guy Ritchie creates a slick, fun Boys' Own adventure war film

56 minutes ago

Rassie Erasmus: These Springbok newcomers impressed me!

56 minutes ago

That didn't take long! Hottest world temperature record is broken for a second day in row, with average global temperatures hitting 17.15°C on Monday

56 minutes ago

On-street charging costs fall by 12% in a boost to driveway-less EV owners

56 minutes ago

Exposed: The nefarious French taxi drivers scamming British tourists out of thousands of pounds - and how to spot them

56 minutes ago

Rogue ACA insurance agents could face criminal charges under a proposed law

1 hour ago

Joe Biden explains his reasons for quitting presidential race

1 hour ago

July 2024 SASSA SRD payments start TODAY

1 hour ago

Shein set to open a pop-up store in Johannesburg

1 hour ago

Mayor Brink ready to fight off motion to oust him

1 hour ago

Messi-less MLS falls 4-1 to Mexican league in All-Star Game

1 hour ago

Calls for Joburg mayor to resign intensify

1 hour ago

'Personal ambition' must give way to 'younger voices'

1 hour ago

Alleging raw deal in Budget, Telangana resolves to boycott Niti Aayog meeting

1 hour ago

Universal Music Posts $3.2 Billion Revenue in Second Quarter, Publishing up 10% as Streaming Revenue Dips

1 hour ago

Djarindjin community in WA's Kimberley formally recognised by state government

1 hour ago

Liverpool in the US: what to watch out for on three-game pre-season tour

1 hour ago

How pilot survived Nepal plane crash that killed everyone else onboard

1 hour ago

Namibia intends to give the West a taste of its own visa-medicine

1 hour ago

1 Dividend-Growth Stock to Buy and Hold for the Next 15 Years

1 hour ago

Eamonn Holmes uses anti-gravity treadmill to help his crippling mobility issues

1 hour ago

Gautrain strike: Numsa and BOC sign a 6.8 percent wage deal

1 hour ago

Madeline Holtznagel shows off her lavish sense of style as she drips in almost $3,000 worth of Chanel while stepping out for lunch down Bondi

1 hour ago

TikTok's 'almond daughter' trend leaves viewers divided as Gen Z women boast of their tiny meals and hardcore workouts - as some fear it's fuelling eating disorders