Australian Human Rights Commission and Universities Australia launch national sexual assault survey

A nation-wide survey to assess the extent of sexual assault and sexual harassment of university students is launched today by the Australian Human Rights Commission and Universities Australia.

A representative sample of students from Australia’s 39 universities will be asked to participate in the survey, which is supported by the National Union of Students and the National Tertiary Education Union.

“This unique collaboration between Australia’s universities and the Australian Human Rights Commission is another important step to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment in Australia’s universities,” said Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs.

“It will also build on the important work of the National Union of Students in their ‘Talk About It’ survey released earlier this year.”

The Respect. Now. Always. national university student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment will assess the prevalence, nature and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment among university students.

“Over the past year, we have heard a great deal about sexual assault and sexual harassment of university students. These reports are worrying. As universities themselves have observed, one sexual assault on campus is one too many,” said Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.

“The data we expect to collect from this survey will provide the evidence needed to continue to develop effective prevention strategies and responses to sexual harassment and sexual assault of university students,” Commissioner Jenkins said.

Collaborative work between The Hunting Ground Australia Project, the National Union of Students, the Australian Human Rights Centre at the University of NSW and Universities Australia underpins this survey. The project is primarily funded by Universities Australia with seed funding from the The Hunting Ground Australia Project.

“Our universities want to make it absolutely clear that we have a zero tolerance policy on sexual assault and harassment,” said Universities Australia Chair Professor Barney Glover.

“This survey will give us an even clearer picture of further work we need to do. University leaders are determined to use the survey results to keep improving our responses and the support we provide to students who have experienced sexual assault or harassment.”

NUS women’s officer Heidi La Paglia said these issues were clearly of concern to university students and the survey was an important piece of work.

“It’s great to see universities, the Australian Human Rights Commission, and university students and staff coming together to make university campuses safer,” she said.

The Respect. Now. Always. national university student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment will be launched at 10am on 23 August 2016 at the University of New South Wales, in the John Niland Scientia Building.

Any student who wishes to have their voice heard can also make a confidential online submission at www.humanrights.gov.au/universitysubmissions.

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