In a speech to the National Press Club today, Universities Australia Chair Professor Deborah Terry said Australian universities will strengthen their efforts to achieve gender equality and ensure existing inequalities are not deepened.
“If we want to harness everyone’s full potential, talent and skills – and if we are serious about ending gender-based violence – we need to begin by addressing gender inequality.”
Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said addressing gender inequality in all its forms, and wherever it appears, is the only way to stop violence before it starts.
“Educating for Equality will support universities to provide a safe working and learning environment where gender equality is actively promoted, gender stereotypes are challenged and gender-based discrimination becomes a thing of the past,” Ms Jackson said.
Drawing on national and international evidence, Educating for Equality includes comprehensive tools to support a whole-of-university approach to preventing gender-based violence. The sector-wide model builds on work already underway at universities to prevent violence and aims to challenge the behaviour, culture, norms and structures that drive this kind of violence.
Our Watch chair Natasha Stott Despoja said the model was designed to work alongside response services such as student and counselling services.
“More than one and a half million people work or study in universities across Australia, and every one of them has the right to feel safe and respected,” Ms Stott Despoja said.
“Disrespect and violence against women do not just occur in a vacuum, but as a result of drivers of this abuse which include condoning of violence towards women, rigid gender stereotypes and male relationships and peer friendships that emphasise disrespect towards women.”
Victorian Minister for Prevention of Family Violence and Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams said it was up to major organisations and governments to lead the way and promote change.
“I’m proud to see the culmination of the innovative partnership between the Victorian Government, Our Watch and Universities Australia,” she said.
“The development of this model is critical to our prevention efforts in ending gender-based violence and creating more inclusive, equal and respectful places for students and staff not just in universities, but everywhere.”
Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly said Educating for Equality provided universities with the tools to continue to tackle discrimination and gender-based violence.
“As influential leaders in the community, this is another opportunity for universities to take further strides towards equality,” Ms Kinnersly said. “Universities can continue to play their part in creating a society where everyone, regardless of gender, sexuality, ability or cultural background, can live free from violence.”
Educating for Equality was developed in collaboration with Monash University, Western Sydney University, Southern Cross University and La Trobe University.
Educating for Equality frameworks and supporting resources can be found at educatingforequality.org.au.