A year on from a national university-funded student survey, all 39 universities have continued to enhance student support services, university policies and prevention programs.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said sexual violence affects every society worldwide — and Australian universities were determined to help tackle this global challenge.
“With 1.3 million students and more than 100,000 staff in our sector, we know our collective efforts to prevent violence can have a ripple effect across entire societies,” Ms Jackson said.
“Universities and their frontline staff have been working to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault for decades – but the Respect. Now. Always. initiative has brought the sector together to make even greater inroads,” she said.
“Student safety is our utmost priority. This work doesn’t stop. It’s an ongoing process to be renewed and repeated at the start of each year when 300,000 new students join our community,” she said.
“Our strong message remains the same: every student has the right to feel safe, and to be safe.”
The 800-plus initiatives include activities such as:
- respectful relationships and consent education programs;
- greater access to specialist counselling for students and staff;
- increased visibility and access to support and emergency lines through websites, social media, and student guides;
- improved orientation and pre-arrival information for international and residential students;
- upskilling counsellors and support staff;
- first responders and bystanders training for students and staff;
- new streamlined online reporting tools and de-identified, confidential data collection;
- enhanced engagement with sexual violence services, police and transport authorities;
- major reviews of policies and procedures, including creating standalone policies on sexual assault and sexual harassment;
- awareness campaigns and student-led initiatives;
- campus-specific safety and emergency apps; and
- new initiatives and partnerships with residential colleges and accommodation providers.
Last week Universities Australia released a set of Guidelines for university responses to reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment: UA Guidelines (2).
The guidelines form part of UA’s 10-point Action Plan that includes the development of tailored training resources, specialist professional development for counsellors, and respectful relationships education.