James Cook University will further strengthen measures to prevent and address sexual assault and sexual harassment on its campuses by moving to adopt all of the recommendations of the Broderick Review.
In February 2017, JCU engaged former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick AO to comprehensively review the University’s sexual harassment and sexual assault policies and procedures, as well as the University’s culture.
Ms Broderick has presented her report to the University. She said the Review identifies key measures that will strengthen JCU’s approach to these matters.
“The report lays out an ambitious, but achievable, work program for leaders at JCU as they seek to build policies, systems and cultures which prioritise safe and respectful learning and working environments.”
She says there is a strong appetite for change at JCU. “Implementing the changes described in the Review will position JCU as a leader among Australian and international universities, a University taking a strong and sustainable stand against sexual harassment and sexual assault,” Ms Broderick said.
Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding has welcomed the Review, and says the University will move to implement all of its recommendations.
“I thank Elizabeth Broderick for this comprehensive report. As a University, we are committed to a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment and sexual assault, and we will work towards the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
“We are implementing strong and effective responses to sexual violence and harassment, by fostering a community that features, at its core, respect, inclusion, and safety for all.
“While JCU has already put in place many measures to prevent and address sexual assault and sexual harassment including immediate response and support to students who report an incident to us, these recommendations will further inform our work,” Professor Harding said.
The Review’s report makes a wide range of recommendations to enhance the University’s policies, procedures, and culture, to provide a safe, inclusive, and respectful environment for students and staff.
The Review’s recommendations include:
- Demonstrating strong and purposeful leadership to eliminate sexual harassment and assault;
- Developing an institution-wide approach to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment;
- Improving support services for those who have experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment;
- Mandatory training for staff and students on matters including sexual assault and sexual harassment,
- Improving the collection, monitoring and evaluation of data on sexual harassment and sexual assault, with due attention to privacy provisions.
The report also includes excerpts of anonymous interviews with students and staff, as part of broad consultation across the University community.
“This is a very thorough and insightful report, and some of the stories shared by interviewees are very frank and the allegations they raise very disturbing,” Professor Harding said.
“We have already responded to some of the allegations raised in the report and we are responding to other allegations made. I urge those with information about any incidents, including those mentioned in the report, to contact us so that we can better address these issues.”
The report points out that JCU has already taken action to respond to some of the concerns raised by students and staff. Details of measures already implemented include:
- Streamlined and improved the University’s internal reporting procedures. This includes a reporting form that has clear guidelines for staff and students to report an incident, and features a reminder on mandatory reporting of any assault involving persons under 18 years of age.
- Training for staff who deal directly with students, including library staff, international student officers and others, explaining JCU’s commitment to a safe and respectful culture, and how to report incidents and refer students to support services.
- Improved access to information for staff and students with the launch of the Safety and Wellbeing website. It provides information, resources, and contacts for anyone who experiences bullying, discrimination, sexual harassment or assault, including information about how to report an incident.
- Increased the number of Equity Contact Officers across JCU from 10 to 47 and launched JCU’s Equity Contact Officers Network. Equity Contact Officers are the first point of contact for staff and students who experience any form of bullying, discrimination or harassment, and are based on the Townsville, Cairns, and Mount Isa campuses. Officers are trained by the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, and provide information to staff and students on matters regarding discrimination and harassment and bullying, including informal and formal resolution options available.
- Undertaking a review of security at the University’s campuses to provide enhanced security for students and staff. The review of security will assess patrolling, the coverage of the CCTV camera network, amongst other issues. The University already provides a high level of security across its campuses, 24 hours a day, including regular vehicle and foot patrols. The security service provides a team of well-trained and equipped uniformed officers, as well as an extensive CCTV camera network. The security service provides escorts after-hours from buildings to car parks or on-campus accommodation for students and staff who have particular concerns, on request. A Queensland Police Beat operates on the Douglas Campus during Semester One and Two, with police available as required.
- The University’s Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Policy has been revised, providing clearer guidance on acceptable behaviour, issues of consent, and procedures for making a complaint.
- A ‘Safe Zone’ has been set up for students and staff on JCU’s Townsville campus. The room is a safe place for students who might be waiting for a bus at night, of who feel uncomfortable or threatened, and is supervised by security staff.
Senior managers and JCU Council members have undertaken a training workshop on matters relating to sexual harassment and sexual assault, as well as the importance of effective policies to promote safety and wellbeing for staff and students.
- JCU is working closely with the JCU Student Association, particularly student advocates, to ensure students are supported when reporting an incident.
- Working collaboratively with residential colleges to ensure appropriate standards of conduct by students who live on campus. JCU’s Student Counselling Service provides training to Residential Assistants (RAs) on respectful behaviour, bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, consent, and how to report any incidents. Training on these matters is also being rolled out to students who live on campus.
- Reviewing the Code of Conduct for staff and establishing a Code of Conduct for students to ensure a safe and respectful university culture.
- Training has been offered for all staff on the prevention of bullying, harassment and intimidation, as well as sexual harassment prevention, and understanding the staff Code of Conduct.
- Free and confidential counselling provided for students and staff.
- Orientation Week briefing for all commencing students explaining JCU’s commitment to a safe, respectful environment and a zero-tolerance approach to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
- Information added to the Orientation Week guide for all commencing students describing JCU’s commitment to safe and respectful behaviour.
- JCU app now includes emergency contact details for students and staff.
- Since 2016, JCU has partnered with other Australian universities in a national initiative lead by Universities Australia, the Respect. Now. Always. campaign. The campaign highlights the determination of Australia’s universities to ensure students and staff are safe from sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Students or staff who need immediate support are encouraged to call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732). This line is available 24/7 and is staffed by qualified counsellors.