In a report released today, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Authority notes universities are enhancing and protecting student wellbeing and safety, and “relevant standards are being effectively upheld”.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said sexual assault and sexual harassment are global and society-wide challenges – and Australian universities had taken a strong and proactive stance against unacceptable behaviours.
“In this report, TEQSA acknowledges the comprehensive program led by UA and our 39 member universities, violence prevention experts and students to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment in student communities and in wider society,” Ms Jackson said.
“Universities and their frontline staff have been working to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault for decades,” she said.
“Through UA’s Respect. Now. Always. initiative, all 39 of our universities came together three years ago to send a very clear message about student and staff conduct and respectful relationships, and contribute to a global movement against sexual violence.”
“Since August 2017, more than 800 further major actions and initiatives have been instigated by Australian universities, including enhancing student support services, university policies and prevention programs.”
“Nationally, this work is guided by representatives of our 39 member universities, and locally by a dedicated expert-informed committee at each university.”
“This comprehensive and collective effort has been driven by the university sector in a world-leading initiative that other nations have followed closely.”
As part of the Respect. Now. Always. initiative, UA also launched a 10-point Action Plan to lead the sector’s next stages of work on this important issue. Six of 10 actions have been completed, with the other four well under way.
Universities Australia will make a further major announcement as part of the 10-point Action Plan in coming weeks.
Ms Jackson said: “Student safety is our highest priority. While we have made major gains, this work doesn’t stop and universities have made a long-term commitment to it.”
“Every student has the right to feel safe. Every student should be safe.”