With more teaching, learning and working being conducted online than ever before, Swinburne has committed to creating and strengthening a safer and more inclusive environment for all. Swinburne has zero tolerance for any form of bullying, discrimination, or harassment, either on or offline. As we study and work from home, each of us deserves to safely bring our whole selves to learn and thrive.
Our behaviour and conduct policies, such as the Swinburne Student Charter, still apply no matter whether you are studying online or on campus.
Swinburne and the Safer Community team also support the Universities Australia and eSafety Commissioner collaboration encouraging safer online environments and have been reviewing processes and guidelines for students and staff with these in mind.
Our new normal – remote and online
We have all had to adjust to using new tools and systems to ensure we remain productive and connected online. When using new platforms, it’s crucial that we work together to maintain safe and inclusive spaces.
It can be easy to slip into a more casual style of communication over instant messaging platforms, emails and video calls. However, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications, Dr Belinda Barnet says it’s important to consider your manner and tone when communicating online.
“Communicate online much in the same way as you do in real life. If it’s rude or offensive don’t say it; and if you’re feeling personally harassed or bullied by someone else leave the conversation and report.
“This is a really difficult time for those spending more time online and it’s important to stay in touch with friends, more now than ever particular if you’re feeling alone,” she says.
Student volunteer from Swinburne’s ‘Team Respect', Brigitte Montalan, says establishing expectations between peers and within classes helps set the tone and create a safe space.
“For teachers, simple actions such as discussing standard rules at the start, individually checking in with students throughout the session and clearly stating the tasks set for the day can help. It shows us that they are striving to give students the same support as we would in face to face classes,” she says.
“For students, breakout rooms are great to do group work in. They allow us to connect with our friends and socialise, even if it is for a short time. Little things like this make you feel comfortable. Which is a good indication that it is a safe place to learn in.”
Tips for communicating online
Here are some tips to help you communicate effectively online.
Supporting our students
The Safer Community team has developed useful resources and information for students to help maintain our safe and respectful community online.
Anyone feeling threatened or unsafe online, or with concerns for the safety of others, can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or online at swinburne.edu.au/safercommunity. Reports can be made anonymously.
If you feel distress related to this story, support is also available by calling the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732 or contacting Safer Community.