Content warning: reference to sexual harassment
Over 40 groups and individuals Australia-wide have signed an open letter urgently calling on the federal government for immediate action to address sexual violence in university spaces, in the face of escalating rates.
Advocates say university leaders are claiming to have had ‘zero tolerance’ to sexual assaults in the six years since the landmark Change the Course Report – yet recent figures in the latest National Student Safety Survey reveal a different story.
The Wire contacted Universities Australia for comment on the issue – Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said:
Sexual harm is a societal problem. We all have a responsibility to act, which is why universities are working hard to reduce instances of this behaviour on campus. Working closely with students and victim/survivor groups, Universities Australia launched the world-first, sector-wide Respect.Now.Always initiative in 2016. This set in motion the development of hundreds of measures and programs at universities across the country to prevent and better respond to sexual harm. Our universities have a strong understanding of their own unique demographics, their campuses and their students, which is why they are best placed to continue building on the extensive work undertaken to date. The policy frameworks, good practice guides and other resources we have developed with experts on behalf of the sector will continue to assist universities in combating sexual harm on campus.