University Students Experiencing “Alarming” Incidence of Campus Sexual Assault1 August 2017
University students are facing “alarming” levels of sexual assault in university settings, an independent investigation into campus sexual harassment and assault has revealed.
The Change the Course report, produced by the Australian Human Rights Commission, revealed 1.6 per cent of students were sexually assaulted at University in 2015 and 2016. Over 21 per cent of students were sexually harassed in 2016.
Those with a disability, those within the LGBTI community, Indigenous students and women were more likely to experience harassment or assault.
The report is the compilation of 1,849 submissions to the Human Rights Commission, and survey results from 30,000 students across Australian Universities.
Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, spoke to the alarming amount of cases of assault and harassment that occur in residential colleges and O-Week camps, in a press conference this morning. Alcohol was also cited as a key factor in many cases. She said perpetrators were in many cases fellow students, and people that victims considered “close friends”.
The report showed that students are also unaware as to how to report cases, with the “vast majority” of students who were sexually assaulted or harassed not knowing how to make a report.
Only six per cent of respondents thought their university is doing enough to provide clear and accessible information on sexual harassment procedures, policies and support services.
President of the National Union of Students, Sophie Johnstone said that universities have failed to provide victims with the support they deserve in this “cultural battle being faced everywhere”.
“One of the biggest barriers in combatting this culture is the ability to start the conversation,” she said. “We were terrified of a conversation that could not be controlled or curated.”
She called for greater education surrounding the issue.
After lobbying by student unions, victims and survivors, earlier this year, all 39 Australian Universities agreed to release University specific results. These results have been resting with individual Universities for a week and will be released to the public at 11am.
If you or someone you know requires counselling or support, a national support line is open on 1800 572 224.