Tuesday, 1 August 2017
The University of Adelaide has adopted all of the recommendations in the Australian Human Rights Commission report into sexual harassment and sexual assault experienced by Australian university students.
The largest-ever national survey of Australian university students is part of the Respect. Now. Always. initiative – a world-first program across 39 Australian universities to raise awareness of sexual harassment and assault, and gather data on student experiences, so we have a clear picture of what more needs to be done.
University of Adelaide Interim Vice-Chancellor, Professor Mike Brooks, says the results of the survey raise very serious concerns for the entire university sector and society as a whole, and the University of Adelaide has already begun taking action on, or implemented, all of the recommendations.
“The University has zero tolerance for sexual harassment and assault and we are determined to dramatically reduce its incidence and support those affected.
“It is of course deeply concerning that one in five of our students responding to the survey experienced sexual harassment at university,” Professor Brooks said.
An action plan for improvement is underway and has included the following steps:
• Engaged the SA Equal Opportunity Commission to audit the University’s safety processes
• Introduced consent training as part of the induction program for new staff and made available for all new students targeted training and awareness programs about respectful communications and consent
• Collaborated with the Adelaide University Union (AUU) and Student Representative Council (SRC) on a range of initiatives for a safer campus
• Developed a new framework designed to encourage students to make reports, and to better communicate support available
• Provided additional counselling resources, especially for first response counselling and dedicated sexual assault support
• Provided a dedicated phone line to assist students to report incidents
• Developed new website content focusing on consent, sexual violence, bystander responsibilities, harassment and bullying
• Funded ‘Recognise and Respond’ training for key staff.
“We are particularly concerned at the level of under-reporting revealed by the survey,” Professor Brooks said.
“We have improved online resources so students may more easily report incidents and can have confidence that we will act on any report. Extra counsellors have been engaged to provide additional support.
“Also very concerning is the number of University of Adelaide students surveyed that disclosed they’d been sexually assaulted at University, on their way to or from university, or at an off campus event associated with the University.
“Such criminal behaviour is totally unacceptable – one instance is clearly too many. We must provide a safe, respectful and world-class environment for learning that is intolerant of harassment or assault, and which assists those in need of support.”
The national report can be found at www.humanrights.gov.au/universityreport, and the University of Adelaide’s full and unedited institutional report can be found here.
Students can reach the new National University Support Line on 1800 572 224.