Prime Minister Scott Morrison has publicly responded to sexual assault allegations raised by a Liberal staffer, saying the woman should be listened to and respected.
Brittany Higgins was 24 years old when she was allegedly raped by a colleague inside Parliament House in March 2019.
Her boss, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, summoned her to a formal employment meeting about the incident in the same room the alleged rape occurred.
Senator Reynolds says she did not know the alleged incident happened inside her ministerial office at the time of the meeting.
"I'm extremely concerned about the wellbeing of my former staff member," she told parliament on Monday.
"At the time of my initial meeting with the staff member I was not aware of the details or the circumstance of the alleged incident in my office.
"Had I known, I would have conducted the meeting elsewhere."
However, Ms Higgins says "there's no way" Senator Reynolds did not know where the alleged rape occurred.
"She knew it was in her office," she told Network 10's The Project on Monday night.
"I just thought it was unfathomable that they would put me in that space again.
"I felt like I was reliving it every second of being in that room."
Ms Higgins said Senator Reynolds was "nice" and "apologetic", but the meeting quickly turned to whether she would report the incident to police.
"I felt like a weird sort of a HR, ticking a box moment," she said.
"It felt like I immediately became sort of like a political problem... it wasn't a staffing problem, it wasn't an HR problem, wasn't a human problem."
Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally is demanding answers from the defence minister.
"There are security issues around the defence minister's office, there are issues as to whether or not this has been properly referred and investigated, not just by officials in this building, but also by the police," she said.
"There are questions about whether or not this young woman was pressured to choose between her job and reporting the matter to police."
Mr Morrison was asked about his government's response to the alleged rape during Question Time.
"My government takes all such matters and all matters of workplace safety very, very seriously," he said.
"Reports today are deeply distressing. This matter is under consideration by police."
Mr Morrison said at all times, guidance was sought from Ms Higgins about how she wishes to proceed with the allegations.
"This important, best practice principle of empowering Ms Higgins is something the government always sought to follow in relation to this matter," he said.
"The government has aimed to provide Ms Higgins with her agency, to provide support to make decisions in her interests and to respect her privacy.
"This offer of support and assistance continues. It is important that Ms Higgins' views are listened to and respected."
An ACT Police spokesperson said it is not uncommon for an investigation to halt, not proceed to prosecution, or to be recommenced at a later time at the request of a victim.
"If the complainant wishes to proceed, ACT Policing will assess the case and make a decision about whether there is sufficient evidence," they said.
Liberal MP Jason Falinksi praised Ms Higgins for speaking out.
"Assault of any sort, but sexual assault in particular, is just unbelievable. Ms Higgins is incredibly brave."
Ms Higgins is the third Liberal staffer to allege she was sexually assaulted by men in the party.
Labor MP Peta Murphy told parliament there needed to be an independent review of the treatment of female employees in Parliament House, and an independent office established to provide advice and counselling.
Australian Associated Press