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Former Liberal staffer Chelsey Potter says she “cried a lot” after reaching out to her former boss senator Simon Birmingham to discuss her experiences of a sexual assault.

Ms Potter alleges that another male colleague in Canberra sexually harassed her while working for Senator Birmingham in 2015.

She contacted Senator Birmingham for a talk in 2019, ahead of going public with a story reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.

He instructed her to call 1800Respect.

She told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that she was’ really devastated by that response.’

“Reaching out was a big deal to me, I know that Simon has come out and said he was contacted by journalists first,” she said.

“I’m concerned that he heard these things had happened to me and someone who had known me half my life, someone who had employed me for six years and he didn’t immediately pick up the phone and ask, ‘hey, what’s going on? I’m hearing these things from journalists?’

“It was important for me to tell him why this particular workplace wasn’t working for me and wasn’t working for women, because he is in a position to change that and make sure it doesn’t happen.”

She said she was disappointed by her response to Senator Birmingham.

“I cried a lot receiving that text — it [the text message] might sound a bit flippant but how do you start that conversation with someone?” she said.

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