*Trigger warning - this story relates to sexual assault.
THE Prime Minister's response to an alleged rape in Parliament House lacked crucial elements, the head of a central Victorian specialist service said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday apologised about the initial handling of allegations former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins was sexually assaulted by a male colleague in Parliament House.
Ms Higgins was 24 years old at the time of the alleged incident, in 2019.
"This should not be an environment where a young woman can find herself in such a vulnerable situation. That is not OK," Mr Morrison said as he apologised, according to the ABC.
The Prime Minister also told the media his wife had prompted him to do more in response to the alleged assault by encouraging him to think about the issue as a father first.
Mr Morrison said his wife, Jenny, asked him, "What would you want to happen if it were our girls?"
Centre Against Sexual Assault chief executive Kate Wright acknowledged Mr Morrison's apology and the investigation into workplace culture at Parliament House that was to be established in response to the alleged assault.
But she found fault in elements of his response.
"Whether you have a wife, a daughter, or a sister, the reality is that we should respond in a human context," Ms Wright said.
"No-one should be assaulted in their workplace, regardless of gender."
She was also concerned about Mr Morrison's reference to a young woman finding herself in a vulnerable situation in her place of work.
"Within that response he has not acknowledged the alleged perpetrator's behaviour being inappropriate or illegal," Ms Wright said.
"Ms Higgins did not make herself vulnerable. She was socialising with work colleagues and was allegedly assaulted as a result of this."
Ms Wright said the disclosure Ms Higgins had made, combined with other reports of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct, showed Parliament House was not a safe workplace for women.
It also showed disclosures were not managed well, or in line with what was expected from the nation's policy and legislative body, according to Ms Wright.
Ms Higgins was summoned to the same room in which the alleged rape occurred by her then boss, defence minister Linda Reynolds, for a meeting about the incident.
Ms Wright said media reports about Ms Higgins's disclosure indicated both the system and the employer closed ranks, discouraging Ms Higgins from pursuing a workplace or justice response to the alleged rape.
"We see this commonly occurring in many workplaces where it is often easier for the victim to leave than pursue workplace remedy to harassment," Ms Wright said.
"This, in turn, replicates the reasons sexual abuse and assaults occur within our community - the perpetrator has power and control, and this is taken away from the victim during the course of the assault and again in the way it is responded to.
"A lot of work is happening with regard to sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace and we look forward to all workplaces being safe and knowing how to respond if abuse, violence and harassment occurs."
She said change would require training and education within workplaces, as well as legislation to ensure it occurred.
Ms Higgins is the third Liberal staffer to allege she was sexually assaulted by men in the party, according to the AAP.
One in five people experience sexual assault, and Ms Wright said it occurred to people from all walks of life.
Fears of not being believed, of being discouraged from reporting, and of damage to their careers were among the reasons people were hesitant to disclose assault and pursue justice.
"Ms Higgins coming forward now will have a chance at pursuing justice," Ms Wright said.
The sight of Mr Morrison with Australian of the Year and sexual assault survivor Grace Tame at the awards ceremony was part of what prompted Ms Higgins to disclose her alleged rape, according to News.com.au.
Ms Wright encouraged anyone affected by sexual assault to seek help.
If you or someone you know needs support, call:
If life is in danger, phone 000
- with AAP