New South Wales Family Minister Gareth Ward denies historical sexual violence claims

Gareth Ward.
Gareth Ward. Photo credit: NSW Liberal Party

New South Wales' Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister Gareth Ward has identified himself as the subject of a historical sexual violence allegation, claims he strongly denies.

On Thursday, police in the Australian state said a task force had been set up to probe the allegations, the ABC reported.

"I have been made aware by a journalist of an investigation into me by NSW police," Ward told 7 News in a statement, adding he hadn't been contacted by authorities directly. 

Ward said he rejects the allegations but would stand down from his ministerial position "until this matter is resolved".

On Thursday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she had accepted Ward's decision to stand down.

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman will stand in as acting Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister for the interim, Berejiklian said

The Australian Federal Government has this year been under pressure over its handling of unrelated sexual harassment allegations. 

Last month, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would close a loophole exempting politicians and judges from rules against sexual harassment at work. 

If you have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment or assault and would like to speak to someone, you could call the HELP support service.