The woman who accused Barnaby Joyce of sexual harassment has done a television interview with the ABC’s 7.30 program to be broadcast tonight.
Catherine Marriott, a businesswoman from Western Australia, told the program that the alleged incident happened after a function in Canberra in 2016.
“After the incident, I walked up to my hotel room and I burst into tears,” she told Leigh Sales during the interview.
“I then couldn’t sleep the whole night. I didn’t actually sleep for a week.
“I rang two of my closest friends and I told them what had happened, and they said they couldn’t believe… they were just absolutely shocked, and they said, ‘You can’t tell anyone. You can’t tell anyone… you will be destroyed if this comes out.”
Ms Marriott said she was too afraid to report the incident at the time, but that changed earlier this year after she heard the tragic story of 14 year-old Dolly Everett, who committed suicide after being bullied.
“She left the world with some really wise words, which were, ‘Speak even if your voice shakes’, and that shook me to the core,” Ms Marriott said.
“I was sort of like, ‘Take a good hard look at yourself. What’s wrong with you Catherine?’”
Ms Marriott made a formal complaint to the National Party but said she was furious when the details were leaked to the media.
“The control that I had over my own identity was taken away, and that’s something that I will live with now for the rest of my life, and I think was… you know, I think it was really unfair, and it was really horrific.”
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan from Discrimination Claims said Ms Marriott’s experience is common.
“It is very difficult for victims of sexual harassment to ever make a formal complaint, because they fear they will not be believed, or that they will be ostracised by their workmates, or labelled a troublemaker,” he said.
“And unfortunately, many complaints don’t result in any adverse action being taken against the perpetrator, so after making a complaint, victims in a lot of cases, end up quitting their job.”
After an investigation, the National Party found there was insufficient evidence against Mr Joyce, who has always denied any wrongdoing in the matter, describing the allegations as “spurious and defamatory”.
Ms Marriott told Leigh Sales that some good has come out of her experience, with the Nationals now refining their sexual harassment policies and the way they handle complaints.
“I would really like to see all the political parties, state and federal, local governments, corporations both large and small, and the not-for-profit sector, ensuring that they have solid harassment policies.” she said.
Mr Heffernan advised anyone who is being subjected to sexual harassment to take notes and get expert advice.
“Keep a diary, write everything down, dates and times and locations of any specific incidents, and if you feel you can’t talk to your manager or HR department, come and get some expert advice from us, and we can handle the situation for you in a confidential and professional way,” he said.
If you have been subjected to sexual harassment, you may be entitled to compensation.
Please call our friendly team at Discrimination Claims today on 1300 853 837.