National Student Safety Survey 2021

  • What is the 2021 National Student Safety Survey?

    The survey will collect data on the scale and nature of university student experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

    The survey is funded by the university sector’s world-leading Respect. Now. Always. initiative – a sector-wide program that aims to prevent sexual violence in university communities and better support those who have been affected.

    The survey will take 10–12 minutes to complete.

  • When will it run?

    The National Student Safety Survey will run from 6 September to 3 October 2021.

    Before it was deployed nationally, a pilot for the survey was conducted at two universities – the Australian National University and Charles Sturt University – during March and April 2021.

  • Who is conducting the survey?

    The survey will be conducted by the Social Research Centre (SRC) in partnership with leading violence prevention expert Associate Professor Anastasia Powell of RMIT University. The survey was commissioned by Universities Australia, the peak body for Australian universities, on behalf of the sector, as part of the Respect. Now. Always. initiative.

    The tender process to conduct the follow-up survey was competitive. The Social Research Centre in partnership with Associate Professor Powell presented the strongest proposal.

  • Can I take part?

    The national survey will randomly sample students from universities across the sector. For most universities, 10,000 students will be sampled. The selection of students will take into account factors like gender, year of study, residency and level of study to make sure the sample is representative.

    If you are selected, you will receive an email from the SRC with instructions on how to participate. We strongly encourage every student who is selected to complete the survey, regardless of whether you have experienced unwanted sexual behaviours.

    The Social Research Centre is also providing an online form for students who would like to share more about their experiences or provide feedback and suggestions. The form is open to all current university students, regardless of whether you have been selected to participate in the survey, and to all students who have been enrolled in a university in the last five years. You can find the form here.

  • When will the national results be released?

    De-identified and aggregated data will be released in 2022 once the results are collected and analysed by the Social Research Centre and Associate Professor Powell.

  • Will the survey be different to the 2016 survey?

    The survey builds on and extends the foundational survey conducted in 2016;, however, there will be key differences, including behavioural questions on sexual assault.

    Comparability between the prevalence rate of the 2016 survey and the 2021 survey will be limited.

  • Will COVID-19 affect the results?

    The National Student Safety Survey will ask students about their experience of violence since starting university, regardless of where it occurred. If students have experienced violence, students will also be asked whether this occurred at university, including at any kind of university event, place, or occasion, whether on or off campus. Universities are concerned about these behaviours happening in student communities, whether they are on campus, off campus, on public transport, at a student’s home or online.

  • Is there ethics approval?

    Yes – both the national survey and qualitative research have received ethics approval from a Human Research Ethics Committee.

    We are very aware that the survey will contain highly sensitive questions. Student and survivor wellbeing are at the centre of the entire survey process.

  • Will it only be students currently at university who can participate?

    Only students currently at university will be randomly selected to participate in the survey. This is so we can guide further action and policies for current students.

    All current students, whether or not they have been selected to participate in the survey, will have the opportunity to share their story anonymously online. In-depth accounts of student experiences, and students’ suggestions for how universities can continue to improve, provides vital context for the SRC’s final analysis.

  • Will I be able to stop and start the survey if I need?

    Yes – you will be able to stop and re-start the survey at any time to ensure you can take breaks if you need.

    Support numbers and hyperlinks to relevant services will be on screen the whole time as you participate in the survey.

    Student safety and wellbeing are at the centre of the entire survey process.

  • Will the survey be translated into other languages?

    Rigorous testing conducted by the SRC in partnership Associate Professor Anastasia Powell showed that translation into other languages is not necessary.

  • Will anyone be able to identify me if I participate in the survey?

    No – the survey results will be confidential, de-identified and aggregated.

  • Did students and survivors have input in the survey process?

    Yes – the Social Research Centre and Associate Professor Powell engaged students, survivors, experts and key organisations in the design of the survey.

  • Were LGBTIQ+ and international students consulted?

    Yes – they were engaged as part of the survey development process.

  • Will the University be providing support to students during the course of the survey?

    The University has on-campus counselling services available for students – as well as phone and online services. More information is available on our Safer Campus Community page.

    Key support numbers will be provided to all survey participants while you do the survey.

    You will be able to stop and re-start the survey at any time if you need to take a break.

  • What has the University done since the first survey?

    Following the release of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) ‘Change the Course’ report in 2017, the University of Adelaide established the Respect. Now. Always. (RNA) Taskforce (Sept – Dec 2017) to adopt and review its recommendations. The Taskforce, consisting of staff, students, a Colleges representative and a Sexual Violence specialist, developed a 65-point action plan which was endorsed by Senior Management. In addition to the AHRC recommendations, the action plan addressed recommendations made by Universities Australia, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA), and the Equal Opportunity Commission (SA).

    As of October 2019, all 65 actions from the RNA Taskforce had been addressed. Safer Campus Community initiatives and communications are led by the Division of Academic and Student Engagement year-round, including Safer Campus Week in Week 3 of Semester 1 and 2.

    The University has established the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Information Network (SASHIN), a community of University of Adelaide staff who are committed to ensuring the University is a safe and respectful environment. SASHIN members are trained staff members who can provide students with information about their options relating to support services and reporting processes.

    The Consent Matters online training module is available to all staff and students, in addition to other targeted training for key staff and student groups.

    Safer Campus Community activity is overseen by senior management via the following channels:

    • A regular update on activity to Vice-Chancellor’s Executive
    • A Safer Campus Community Update paper is submitted to every University Council meeting
    • An annual Student Behaviour and Conduct Report, with a particular focus on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment (SASH), is provided to Vice-Chancellor’s Executive, Audit, Compliance and Risk Committee and University Council

    More information can be found on our Safer Campus Community page.

  • Who can I contact if I have further questions?

    If you have any questions about being invited to participate in the survey, or you would like to opt out of the study, please contact 1800 023 040 or

    If you have any questions about University of Adelaide’s Safer Campus Community, please contact