One year on: Sexual assault and sexual harassment

Tuesday 31 July 2018

Three students facing away from the camera.

Swinburne has zero tolerance for sexual assault and sexual harassment.

In summary

  • Swinburne continues to strengthen student safety and support initiatives 
  • The Respect.Now.Always. Taskforce including Swinburne students and staff is leading the implementation of AHRC recommendations

Swinburne continues to strengthen student safety and support initiatives one year after results from a university-funded national student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment were released.

Following release of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) survey results in August 2017, Swinburne has developed existing initiatives and formed a Respect.Now.Always. Taskforce including Swinburne students and staff to lead implementation of all nine AHRC recommendations.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Linda Kristjanson, says student safety is paramount at Swinburne.

“Swinburne has zero tolerance for sexual assault and sexual harassment and we want safety and respect to be central to our university culture,” Professor Kristjanson says.

“We continue to make progress in addressing each of the AHRC’s recommendations including introduction of consent training, bolstering our support services, data collection and analysis and continuing to strive for the safety of our students in all areas.”

Swinburne initiatives

Following the 2017 results, Swinburne has implemented and expanded initiatives for students including:

  • mandatory Consent Matters training module for student cohorts including on campus residents, advocates, club committee members, clubs, sports team and overnight trip participants, and leadership volunteers
  • compulsory orientation session covering respectful behaviours, consent and bystander awareness for residential students
  • respectful relationship and bystander training for student Residential Advisors delivered by Centres Against Sexual Assault. 

Swinburne has collaborated with the tertiary education sector through Universities Australia, to create new national guidelines for university responses to sexual assault and sexual harassment. These guidelines assist universities in responding to disclosure and format reports in a way that puts student safety and wellbeing at the centre of the university’s response. 

The Respect.Now.Always. Taskforce continues to engage with representatives from external bodies including the Department of Education, Centre for Sexual Assault, and Victoria Police to help inform improvements to Swinburne’s support services and initiatives.  

Swinburne has also strengthened its sexual assault and sexual harassment resources including: 

  • new on-campus health services at Hawthorn including access to doctors, nurses, mental health nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists with all responding staff trained by Eastern Centre against Sexual Assault (ECASA)
  • free counselling available to all students
  • a training module to help staff respond appropriately to disclosures of sexual violence
  • an out-of-hours crisis line managed by a trained counsellor
  • online reporting form for students to report incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment to Swinburne’s Safer Community team
  • all Safer Community staff trained by ECASA to improve information, support, advice and coordination in managing inappropriate, concerning or threatening behaviour.

Data reporting incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment is updated every six months and is available via the Swinburne website

Independent review 

Swinburne has also commissioned an independent, expert led review of existing university policies and response pathways in relation to sexual assault and sexual harassment. 

Swinburne will publicly release the full independent report when completed.

If you feel distress related to this story support is available by calling the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732. 

Sexual assault and sexual harassment support services information for students is available on the Swinburne website.