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If you need help, or to talk with someone, specialist support is available by calling the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

In February 2016, Australia's universities launched a groundbreaking initiative to prevent and address sexual assault and harassment across the sector.

Respect. Now. Always. highlights the determination of Australia’s universities to ensure that our universities are places of safety and respect. 

It builds on work done by individual universities in Australia over many years to develop policies, reporting procedures and support services. 

The campaign aims to: 

  • raise awareness of sexual assault and sexual harassment and lift the visibility of support services for students; 
  • obtain data to guide further improvement in university policies and services; and
  • assist universities in sharing global best practice resources across the sector​​

Hear from former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick and other university leaders about Respect. Now. Always.:


Respect. Now. Always. national university student survey

In late 2016, tens of thousands of Australian university students were asked to participate in Australia’s first-ever national prevalence survey on university student experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment. 

The survey results will give Australian universities a clearer evidence base to guide further work to prevent and address sexual assault and sexual harassment. It is a critical part of the university sector’s Respect. Now. Always. campaign that aims to  keep university students safe.

The leaders of all 39 Australian universities asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to investigate the nature and scale of these behaviours. The survey is supported by the National Union of Students and the National Tertiary Education Union. 

All survey responses are confidential and the privacy of everyone invited to take part is protected. No university will ever know whether a student has participated in the survey or what they say. 

The survey findings will be published by the Commission by the middle of 2017.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the timeline for this survey and how does it fit into the Respect. Now. Always. initiative?

February 2016: all 39 university Vice-Chancellors launched a new initiative to address sexual assault and sexual harassment and build on work by individual universities in this area.

The Respect. Now. Always. initiative has three clear aims: 

- raise awareness of sexual assault and sexual harassment and lift the visibility of support services for students; 

- obtain data to guide further improvement in university policies and services; and

- assist universities in sharing best practice resources across the sector.

As part of this initiative, the university sector asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct a national prevalence survey of university students.

September 2016 to November 2016: students across the 39 universities were asked to participate in the survey, with the survey running at different times at each institution during this period. 

Mid-2017: the Australian Human Rights Commission will release the national report with the survey results and recommendations on areas for university action and reform.

Was there ethics approval for the survey? 

This project had two parts: the first was a national prevalence survey to provide quantitative data on the nature and scale of sexual assault and harassment. The second was an open submissions page on the Australian Human Rights Commission’s website that enabled anyone to share their experiences. This process was run by the Commission. 

The national prevalence survey received ethics approval from the University of New South Wales Human Research Ethics Committee in August 2016.

The Commission has stated that for the open submissions page: “Ethics approval is required in relation to research. The information provided in submissions is not research in the sense of a survey, but rather provides an opportunity for all members of the public to share their views.”

Will there be university-level data?

Each university will be provided with an institutional report by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The release of institutional reports is a matter for each university but already a number of universities have committed to release their data. 

Universities Australia’s Chair Professor Barney Glover has said that he anticipates that all universities will release this data at the same time as the release of the national report. 

Will the Commission’s national report contain recommendations?

In the national report, the Commission will be making recommendations on areas for action and reform for universities. 

When will the results of the survey be released?

The Commission will publically release the national report in mid-2017. 

If you need help, or to talk with someone, specialist support is available by calling the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).