Andrews staffer leaves Premier’s office after ex-partner accuses him of violent assaults

A former ministerial adviser in the Andrews government has reported her former partner – a senior adviser in the Premier’s office – to police following years of alleged domestic abuse.

In her police statement she detailed allegations of escalating physical and psychological abuse by the man throughout their years-long relationship, culminating in an attempt in December to strangle her during which she feared she would die.

Parliament House on Spring Street.Credit:Matthew Piper

The Age has put the claims to the man, who abruptly left his role in Premier Daniel Andrews’ office in recent weeks after the government was made aware of the woman’s allegations, but he declined to comment.

The woman’s friends said she had been afraid to report the alleged abuse because of the potential political repercussions of speaking out, but was prompted to come forward after hearing sexual assault survivor Grace Tame address the National Press Club on March 3.

The woman, whom The Age has chosen not to name, made a formal statement to police on March 11 about the alleged abuse. Police are investigating.

She took out an intervention order against the man on March 19. On that date he was notified of the order, and alerted the Premier’s office that he was the subject of it.

He left his role on March 31, days after it became clear that the order related to allegations of physical abuse against his former partner.

A court hearing related to the intervention order has been set for July 1.

The former staffer, who is in his 20s, has risen quickly through Labor ranks. He previously worked for Deputy Premier James Merlino and was once in the running for a powerful position within the party administration.

He has had close relationships with senior figures in the party and his departure surprised many in the government.

Other alleged behaviour outlined in the police report included claims he hit the woman, resulting in bruising; grabbed her by the arms and shook her; and threw a phone at her and repeatedly broke items around her.

She also alleged he threw her against a wardrobe in mid-2020 before hitting her with a pillow about 10 times.

The police report outlines alleged controlling behaviour and psychological abuse, including pressuring her to lose weight, excessive texting and phone calls and refusing to let her spend time alone.

Friends of the woman told The Age she was worried about reporting the abuse given she had worked for the government and so did her alleged perpetrator. She left her government role in early 2020.

The relationship ended late last year but the woman did not go to police until March, after first disclosing the alleged abuse to family and friends.

She has since told friends that the wave of allegations of sexual abuse and harassment centring on Federal Parliament – including by former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins, who has alleged she was raped by a colleague – led her to speak up.

The woman declined to comment to The Age, and requested that her privacy be maintained.

In between the issuing of the intervention order and his departure from his role, the adviser attended a regional getaway for Labor MPs at which he was among a handful of staff in attendance, including the Premier’s most senior advisers.

Following his departure, the man sent an online memo to more than 200 government staff and politicians saying he was leaving because of a “private matter that has impacted me and someone close to me at the time”.

“As such, I feel it would be inappropriate to continue in my role in government at this time,” he wrote.

Support is available from the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service at 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

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