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#NeverOK

Improving how we prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment

On 1 August 2017, the Australian Human Rights Commission released its report, Change the course: National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities, along with the findings of a national student survey.

Thousands of people shared their stories as a result of the national survey. We consider it our duty to ensure their contributions result in a stronger, safer University community.

One incident of sexual assault or of sexual harassment is one too many. The only goal is zero – anything other than zero is unacceptable.

In recent years, we have taken a number of actions to improve how we prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment, but we have not done enough. We are committed to advancing this work by implementing all nine recommendations contained in the Change the Course report.

One of these recommendations was to commission an independent, external review of current policies and procedures. This was designed to highlight where we need to improve and to ensure the steps we take are appropriate and well targeted.

We asked former Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Robin Banks and human rights and gender consultant Indira Rosenthal to examine our policies and procedures, and interview key staff and student representatives.

This review sets out a number of areas we must address as a University community and we will address every single one of them. We have accepted all 45 recommendations.

We will deliver change for the better. This next stage of our efforts will build on work already underway aimed at improving our governance arrangements, reporting mechanisms, counselling services, education and awareness programs, and training for staff.

Our policies and procedures to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment must have the confidence of our staff and students, and must effectively support the dedicated and passionate people who work in this area.

This work is being overseen by Professor Margaret Otlowski, Pro Vice Chancellor, Culture and Wellbeing, working in close collaboration with Stephanie Taylor, Executive Director, Student Experience and other staff and student representatives across the University. An independent oversight body will ensure that as we strive for improvement, we will be receiving ongoing independent, direct and public feedback on our progress.

The challenges and issues that we face are reflective of those in the broader community, but we are committed to be a leader in pursuit of a more just, equitable and inclusive society.

Respect.Now.Always.
#NeverOk

The University provides counselling for staff and students.

Students can contact 1800 817 675 for support. If it is outside of business hours, the University Crisis Line can always be reached on 1300 511 709 or via text message on 0488 843 012.

Staff members and their families can access free counselling through the Employee Assistance Program on 1800 650 204.