As the results of the national survey by the Human Rights Commission survey into sexual violence are released, UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says it is clear both universities and the wider community need to be working harder to develop of models of respect, safety and care in society.
“Overall, as the Human Rights Commission itself observes, the results show that the incidence of sexual harassment and assault on campuses mirrors those of the wider community and we need to do more to turn this around,” he says.
“We want to be champions for change in this space and that starts right here on campus with our own students.
“Our goal now is to do more to assess and improve the psycho-social safety of our campuses for all of our students and staff.
“The work done around the Universities Australia, Respect. Now. Always. campaign and this Australia-wide survey, signals that universities have no tolerance for any behaviours that cause harm and fear for students.
“At UniSA, our goal is not only to oversee safer campuses, but to educate all members of our university community to have zero tolerance for sexual assault and harassment.”
Prof Lloyd says UniSA has a long-term, integrated safety and well-being approach designed to protect students against sexual assault, harassment and bullying on campus.
“At UniSA we strive to foster a respectful environment where we value our students and staff for their potential to contribute to better social outcomes and where sexuality, sexual orientation, race and religion are no barrier to acceptance, advancement and engagement.
“We have a full suite of programs and services in place at UniSA to support this, from student counselling and mental health and wellbeing programs, right through to apps that support a safe zone on campus, and staff and student education programs around the issues, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve.
“We will continue to review and adjust policies, programs and services designed to educate about the impact of sexual assault and harassment, work to protect staff and students on campus, support victims and survivors and encourage a campus environment that promotes safety and wellbeing for everyone.”
An initiative of Universities Australia, the Respect. Now. Always. campaign and the commissioned national survey from the Australian Human Rights Commission surveyed almost 31,000 students from 39 universities across Australia to obtain data to guide further improvement in university policies and services, to raise awareness of sexual assault and sexual harassment and lift the visibility of support services for students. At UniSA 612 students responded to the survey.
Prof Lloyd says the University will thoroughly assess the data specific to UniSA to see where and how policies and practices can be strengthened.
“No incidence of sexual harassment or assault is acceptable,” he says.
“We will be adopting all the recommendations of the national report, which align strongly with UniSA’s values.
“We also acknowledge and fully understand that the release of the survey results may be unsettling for some, and we want to make sure all staff and students are aware of UniSA’s resources and support services which are detailed at the Respect. Now. Always. website.”
Anyone wanting access to telephone counselling and support can call the 24/7 hotline: 1800 572 224.