22 March 2016

The University of Melbourne, in conjunction with UMSU, has launched the first Respect Week; a week filled with events aimed at highlighting issues students and staff face in regards to respect and awareness or a lack thereof. This is in response to Universities Australia’s campaign ‘Respect. Now. Always.’, a nation-wide initiative aimed at addressing sexual assault on campus.

A panel discussion to launch this initiative took place yesterday, including participation by Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis and journalist Maxine McKew Academic participants included Dr Lauren Rosewarne, senior lecturer in sexuality, gender and feminism, and PhD candidate Gemma McKibbin.

The panel discussed a range of issues, with a focus placed on bystander behaviour, the importance of sex education and how institutions react to instances of sexual assault and harassment.

Dr Rosewarne introduced the need for fundamental and cultural change in regards to sexual assault.

“What does a society need to do to find this behaviour abhorred?” she asked.

“We have the chance to influence a lot of young people here…getting people to think that they actually have an entitlement to be in a safe space…and making [student support services] really public.”

As an institution, the University lacks proper statistics regarding instances of assault on campus – something that this campaign aims to address. Universities Australia will be conducting a survey to provide empirical data alongside a suite of educational material for institutions within the year.

In a closely coordinated melange between UMSU and the University’s Students and Equity Department, a screening of the 2015 documentary The Hunting Ground will also be aired this Tuesday at 6pm. This screening will be followed by a Q&A, led by the UMSU Wom*n’s Department, discussing the film and the stories it tells of sexual assault victims across the United States.

UMSU Wom*n’s Officer Adriana Mells noted the importance of students being aware of the available campus services.

“How can everyone as a campus community get involved, and how can we help? I think students in general don’t know about the services available to them most of the time, so it’s just a matter of how we can reach people… to reaffirm respect, and demonstrate that we take these conversations very seriously.”

On Wednesday, a Respect Week Social will be held on South Lawn, alongside a free barbecue, with representatives from both students and staff to raise awareness of this initiative and the services available. Acting Equity Director Wendy Holden provides an insight into the programs organised on a local level.

“It’s everyone’s business…This will be the start of an ongoing campaign to ensure that students know there’s support, that they know there’s a safer community,” she said.

“If something doesn’t look like its right, then [students] should step in and advocate and not just let things happen.”


If you are looking for help, the Safer Communities program, and its app UniSafe, provide ongoing support for students and staff.

Safer Communities Program

03 9035 8675

Campus Security

General Enquiries: 03 8344 4674

Emergency: 1800 264 066 or 03 8344 6666

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