Statement from University of Adelaide: sexual assault and sexual harassment

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The following statement has been provided to Seven News in relation to its story about sexual assault and sexual harassment at universities in South Australia:

The 140+ cases across the three South Australian universities referred to by Seven News relate to the broader range of student incidents and are not isolated to sexual assault and sexual harassment at the universities.

The University of Adelaide has zero tolerance for sexual harassment and assault. We are determined to reduce its incidence and are committed to supporting those affected. The University offers support to students no matter where an incident occurs.

Here are the figures of student sexual assault and sexual harassment incidents reported to the University of Adelaide over the past two years:


University-related student incidents:
Sexual assault: 0
Sexual harassment: 10

Non-University-related student incidents:
Sexual assault: 4
Sexual harassment: 0


University-related student incidents:
Sexual assault: 0
Sexual harassment: 8

Non-University-related student incidents:
Sexual assault: 2
Sexual harassment: 7

The University emphasises that zero cases is the only acceptable number for such incidents at universities and indeed across society.

Every student who accesses confidential counselling through University Counselling Support is provided with information and support to make a formal report to the University and/or SAPOL. Students are also offered ongoing support and relevant referrals to external services regardless of their decision to make a formal report to the University or SAPOL.

The University continues to regularly address and report on this important issue to the University Council and to senior management. An annual Student Behaviour and Conduct Report, with a particular focus on sexual assault and sexual harassment, is provided to Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Committee, the Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee, and the University Council. A monthly report of all incidents notified is provided to the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor, both of whom take a personal interest in these incidents and the issues more broadly.

Following the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Public Statement about the University’s former Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen, the University has committed to adopting all recommendations made by the ICAC. This includes reviews of policies, procedures and guidelines relating to sexual harassment and sexual assault, education and training programs for staff, and changes to record keeping. A Steering Committee has been established to lead this work, chaired by Professor Katrina Falkner, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences. Updates on the work of this Committee are available here:

The University recognises that this is also an issue that needs to be addressed within the wider community. With the higher education sector, the University will participate in the National Student Safety Survey in September this year. The results of that survey will also contribute to the University’s commitment to and understanding of this challenging problem.

The University of Adelaide is committed to fostering a culture and environment in which staff and students can thrive and feel safe, valued and welcome. All members of our community deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and collegiality.

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