Swinburne University of Technology’s commitment to the prevention of all forms of violence, harm and disrespect has been reinforced with new safety and support initiatives for students and staff. The initiatives are part of Swinburne’s zero tolerance approach and will focus on respectful relationships, gender equality, healthy masculinity and LGBTIQ+ inclusion.
Putting the community first
In recent years Swinburne has boosted its investment in safety and support initiatives. Vice-Chancellor, and Chair of Swinburne’s Respect Now Always Taskforce, Professor Pascale Quester says she is determined to ensure this continues.
“Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students. We have been working hard to put measures in place that will give anyone who enters our working and learning environments access to appropriate safety and support resources,” Professor Quester said.
“We’re on a constant mission to ensure that safety and respect are central to our university culture, and we’ll never stop improving the support initiatives for our students and staff,” she said.
National Student Safety Survey
Swinburne will again participate in the sector-wide National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) in September 2021. The survey, commissioned by Universities Australia and conducted by the Social Research Centre, addresses sexual assault and sexual harassment in university student communities.
The survey forms part of the Respect. Now. Always. initiative, a long-term, shared approach by 39 Australian universities.
The 2021 survey will build on the findings from the first survey in 2016 to help universities understand the context of behaviours and experiences among university students to inform responses for student safety and wellbeing.
Promotional material for the National Student Safety Survey, commissioned by Universities Australia.
Since the release of the first national survey results in 2017, Swinburne has implemented a range of initiatives, including providing anonymous reporting options, providing clearer guidelines for students on incident reporting and increasing transparency of incidents.
Going further in 2021
During 2021 Swinburne has strengthened its safety and support initiatives with a focus on education and prevention initiatives to help prevent violence, harm and disrespect.
Consent Matters, an online consent education program, will be expanded to all students from Semester 2 2021. Students will be automatically enrolled through Swinburne’s online learning system. The program has been compulsory for specific groups of students, including campus residents, leaders, volunteers and sports teams since 2018, and now all students will be encouraged to complete the program.
Consent Matters has been designed to reflect the Swinburne student experience and gives students additional guidance and resources to build on their knowledge of respect and consent. The program has been designed to help prevent unacceptable behaviour, including sexual assault. Being clear on what consent is and how to seek it through open conversation is central to Swinburne’s education and prevention initiatives.
“A key part of understanding consent is open conversation – this shouldn’t just be one on one, but amongst peers and with the wider community,” Professor Quester said.
“I am confident the roll out of Consent Matters to all students will build greater awareness of the importance of consent while also influencing wider conversations with students and their social and family circles.”
Imagery from Swinburne’s new social change campaign, Unlearn It.
Challenging attitudes through open dialogue
Unlearn It, a new Swinburne social change campaign harnessing the power of student voice, will focus on challenging learnt attitudes and unconscious lessons in society, covering topics such as gender-based violence.
“Challenging learnt attitudes and encouraging our students to discuss and revaluate how they feel about them can help prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment through a different lens,” Professor Quester said.
“We know that gender inequality is an underlying condition for gender-based violence, so our prevention initiatives this year will focus on gender equality and related topics of healthy masculinity and LGBTIQ+ inclusion.”
The Unlearn It campaign will launch later this month on Instagram Live, and further resources and articles will be available on the Swinburne website.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment support services information for students is available via Swinburne’s Safer Community website.
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.