Respect.Now.Always: Anniversary an important time to reflect, regroup and continue to take action
12 months has passed since the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released its landmark National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities. Western Sydney University has marked the anniversary by maintaining its staunch commitment to stamping out sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Barney Glover, says while much has already been accomplished there is still a lot of work to do.
“I am very pleased with how the University has responded to the challenges of promoting respectful relationships, and improving campus culture,” said Professor Glover.
“So far, the University has addressed every single recommendation from the AHRC report – as well as other reports including the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) – through a broad-range of strategies and initiatives.
“But there is still more to do. The University is continually reviewing and evaluating its policies and procedures and has a range of new initiatives that are still in various stages of development.”
Western Sydney University takes a clear and strong stand on sexual assault and sexual harassment: sexual assault is a crime and sexual harassment is never okay, and neither is tolerated at this University.
The University was a partner in the ground-breaking national student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment, and welcomed the release of the National Report in August 2017.
The University is overtly student centred in its mission and has ensured that students formed an integral part of its response, which includes:
- The formation of a Respect.Now.Always. taskforce, led by the Vice-Chancellor, which brings together a broad cross section of the University’s student and staff community, including members of the Board of Trustees, as well as representatives from external sexual assault and domestic violence agencies.
- A Respect.Now.Always. Student Ambassador program – to raise student awareness about what constitutes sexual assault and sexual harassment and how to report these offences.
- A First Responder training program – which is being delivered across the University, with further bespoke training and online study modules in development.
- The implementation of a Respect.Now.Always. online portal to help students report issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment; any time, day or night.
As part of its ongoing development of new strategies and initiatives, the University is also:
- Developing a Respect.Now.Always. app – which will be used as an information resource for students and staff, and will aim to support survivors with their decisions immediately following a sexual offence. The app is in its final stages of development.
- Working closely with its residential accommodation partner Campus Living Villages (CLV), to strengthen its preventative, reporting and support mechanisms. CLV is also working with ALLY and the Diversity and Equity Unit to devise protocols and mechanisms to ensure the support and safety of LGBTIQ+ students living on campus.
- Rolling out compulsory training on respectful relationships, including consent. From January 2019, all students will be required to complete the training prior to being accepted as a resident at CLV.
- Planning to conduct independent, expert-led reviews of all our existing policies, procedures and protocols, to ensure we are implementing best practice and making continual improvements to our support services and programs, and responding to sexual assault survivors in a respectful and responsible way. SenateSHJ has been commissioned to lead a review into factors that contribute to sexual assault and sexual harassment in University residential settings.
To time with the anniversary, Universities Australia has released new Principles for Respectful Supervisory Relationships. Western Sydney University welcomes the release of the new guidelines, which confirm that a sexual or romantic relationship between a student and academic supervisor is never appropriate.
Western Sydney University’s existing Conflict of Interest Policy emphasises that staff members have a responsibility to avoid activities or actions in relation to students – including but not limited to those actions that may risk the exploitation of the student. This encompasses sexual offences or unwanted sexual behaviour. The University is also updating its Sexual Offences Response Policy and Procedures in line with the new guidelines.
For more information, visit the University's Respect.Now.Always. website.
1 August 2018
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