Respect. Now. Always.
In 2016, Universities Australia initiated the Respect. Now. Always campaign, a sector-wide program that was aimed at preventing any forms of sexual violence in university communities and developing response strategies to better support victims.
As part of this initiative, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) conducted a national survey of Australian University Students to investigate the nature, prevalence and reporting of instances of sexual violence and/or harassment. The outcome was the Change the Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities (2017) which sets out nine recommendations to participating Universities.
Vice-Chancellors should take direct responsibility to implement recommendations, including decision-making and monitoring and evaluation of actions taken
CQUniversity established a Respect. Now. Always. Working Group in 2017. The aim of the group was to oversee the implementation of the University’s actions relating to the Change the Course Report and any other initiatives that stem from this.
The group is made up of representatives from the following operational areas:
- Students Directorate
- People and Culture
- Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research (QCDFVR)
- Corporate Communications
- Tertiary Education Division
- Student Residences
The group works with the Student Representative Council who provide advice and feedback to the group, related to the activities being delivered and any emerging issues that need to be considered.
The group is chaired by the Deputy Vice-President Students, who reports outcomes to the University’s management team, Vice-Chancellor and President, University Council and Student Representative Council.
The establishment of this group has allowed the University to deliver a consolidated whole-of-organisation response to all issues related to the prevention and management of sexual assault and harassment on campus, while also ensuring that the actions delivered are meeting the key recommendations listed in the AHRC’s Change the Course report and the Universities Australia 10-point Action Plan.
This working group is currently under review and will be refreshed with new working group members.
Universities develop a plan for addressing the drivers of sexual assault and sexual harassment
Since 2017, CQUniversity has continued to develop and deliver a holistic suite of education programs aimed at both students and staff to address the drivers of sexual assault and harassment.
The Class Act Conduct
This training provided staff with strategies for resetting workplace communication culture, maximising trust responses and minimising threat responses. We are continuously aiming to equip our university with the skills and confidence to create thriving, high-performing and safe teams, and a great communication culture. This program was a series of video training with surveys in-between for staff to create the themes for the Communication Charter for the University, to set the standard for how we want to communicate at the university.
Behind Closed Doors Campaign
The campaign was designed in a two-pronged approach:
- to increase awareness of safe sexual and reproductive practises to reduce the rate of STIs and unwanted pregnancies in the CQUni student population.
- to increase accessibility to sexual health resources, to support preventative and early intervention steps and to facilitate informed choices.
Building Boundaries for Healthy Relationships
Offering a psychoeducation group workshop series to students is an early intervention strategy that promotes healthy relationships, boundary setting and understanding consent for CQUni students while also creating an opportunity for them to connect with peers and experience a sense of belonging. The series has been developed in direct response to the RNA/NSSS campaign and recognises the need to support Uni students (domestic and international) in building knowledge and awareness of engaging in respectful relationships and the value of accessing relevant community services and supports.
ALLY Program and ALLY Training
CQUniversity is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive atmosphere for all students with a zero tolerance approach to bullying and discrimination. As part of this, we have implemented an ALLY Program to promote acceptance and understanding for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) students. This program is for ALL students, whether they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or not. ALLY members can provide confidential support for LGBTIQ students.
Pre-departure Training Modules
CQUniversity recognised the need to affirm our values in students who travel under the broader umbrella of CQU. The pre-departure modules serve as a way of promoting respectful relationships, provides education and awareness of the services available to our students if they feel unsafe and/or if they have any experiences of sexual assault or harassment and ensures the University's due diligence in ensuring our students are making informed choices in their interactions with fellow students, staff members and the broader community.
CQUniversity’s Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research (QCDFVR) Research Project
CQUniversity carried out an independent Sexual Assault Survey with CQUni students. With little research to date, and acknowledgement for the need of a better understanding of sexual violence, the survey was carried out to advance knowledge and awareness of university students’ experiences of sexual assault and the impact it has on their educational experience and to further inform how student services can provide support.
University-wide Mental Health Strategy
CQUniversity has developed a university-wide mental health strategy which was launched in 2020. The scope of the strategy extends to staff and student mental health and outlines a framework for implementing actions that will assist in the improvement of all aspects of staff and student wellness.
Universities to ensure students and staff know about support services and reporting processes for sexual assault or sexual harassment
CQUniversity has implemented a number of processes to further inform the reporting practices for disclosures and reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment. This work also encompasses initiatives to promote the support services available to our university community. These initiatives are summarised below:
Safer Communities Webpage
CQUniversity has recently updated our web presence for Respect. Now. Always initiatives. This resource brings together information on a range of services available at CQU in one easily accessed location. Designed to assist any student, academic and professional staff and community member access information regarding support services and identify the reporting practices for disclosures and reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
A comprehensive set of staff guidelines has been developed that clearly sets out university expectations for appropriately responding to student complaints, students in crisis and disclosures of sexual violence. The guidelines act as a reference tool for all staff and assist them in providing appropriate first responder support to students in crisis, even if they have not undertaken a related training course. The guidelines clearly set out a process for responding to students, recording information and referring students to relevant support services. Distributed widely across the University, the guidelines are now an engrained part of staff training.
CQUniversity recognises that staff play an essential role in supporting students during the recovery process. The Staff Guidelines were developed to step staff through the actions they can take, the services available to students and themselves and their obligations in dealing with a student in crisis.
A detailed document which informs a coordinated process for decision making, managing, and reporting of critical incidents involving students of CQUniversity by outlining how to respond promptly and appropriately to, and manage critical incidents in an effective, consistent, compassionate and culturally sensitive manner.
The policy was informed by consultation with law enforcement, legal and health professionals, and specialist support service providers. It sets out a framework for student safety and wellbeing. In particular, it deals with the prevention of sexual harassment and assault. The policy also informs the University’s response to reports of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct, sets out steps to ensure student safety and wellbeing is prioritised at all times, and outlines recommendations to ensure all complaints are dealt with fairly and compassionately.
The Student Conduct Policy and Procedure
Drawing on benchmarking across similar policies in the sector and the limited cases experienced to date within the University, the draft Policy and Procedure sets out student conduct expectations and what is misconduct as well as providing greater guidance for staff on how misconduct can be ‘nipped in the bud’.
CQUniversity is committed to continually evolving current misconduct policies and procedures to encompass all unacceptable student conduct, ensuring it applies to any misconduct relating to a student, no matter their location, mode of study, or where the misconduct occurs.
CAMMS – Confidential Reporting
CQUniversity implemented a new reporting system for all Occupational Health and Safety incidents. Using this platform, staff and students are able to log confidential incidents which are locked down and only accessible by to a specific indecent management group. The reporting system is accessible through CQUniversity’s student platform (MyCQU), StaffNet and website.
Any disclosures of sexual harassment or assault are de-identified, ensuring privacy and confidentiality and are flagged immediately with the incident management group who then enact the appropriate actions ensure the safety and wellbeing of survivors.
CQUniversity implemented SafeZone - a user-friendly, free, mobile application designed to facilitate instant communication between CQUniversity and its staff and students, in the event of a critical emergency incident, or if they feel their personal safety is being compromised.
The app allows students to alert the University to any unfolding emergencies or submit urgent requests for help and/or first aid. Our Security Team have been trained and are equipped with the relative resources to respond to each call for assistance in the appropriate process and procedure.
Orientation Campaign – OTV
With the changes to physical campus events, CQUniversity launched OTV, our Online Orientation broadcast. This features a segment, under the Student Life session, named Behaving Responsibly and Respectfully as a Student. The segment talks explicitly on the RNA Campaign, CQUniversity’s zero tolerance approach and our commitment to being a safe and peaceful place to work. The segment also includes a consent video for students. The resources in this segment are then available for continued access through our Online Orientation page.
CQUniversity has added information about the RNA campaign to the new staff online induction and compulsory online staff refresher program. The information provides staff with reference material and documentation, specific information, resources, and key contacts via the StaffNet page. All new staff need to review this information as part of the mandatory new staff induction process and all existing staff need to review this information as part of the annual corporate refresher program.
Universities should commission an independent, expert-led review of existing university policies and response pathways in relation to sexual assault and sexual harassment
The University has engaged a number of external and independent experts to conduct reviews on our existing policies and procedure, in particular to develop clear responses to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The CQUniversity Internal Audit team conducted a full internal audit in March 2020. The audit objectives were to map and assess the University’s response to the 2017 campaign and survey. The University’s Audit, Finance and Risk Committee and the University Council noted progress and audit recommendations.
Universities should conduct an assessment to identify staff and student representatives most likely to receive disclosures of sexual assault and sexual harassment and ensure these staff members and student representatives receive specialised training
CQUniversity undertook an assessment of the areas institution that are most likely to receive disclosures of sexual assault and harassment; this review identified five key staffing units. Training for these staff have been tailored to their work units and are ongoing to ensure staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills to appropriately respond to disclosures.
First Response Training
University staff who communicate directly with students, find themselves in ‘incidental counselling' situations from time to time. This may be where they need to respond to students who may be distressed, have disclosed an experience of sexual violence, are experiencing mental-ill health, or presenting with challenging behaviours. This eLearning module is designed to equip staff with awareness, knowledge and skills to respond to a student who is in distress, in crisis, or a student who discloses an experience of sexual violence.
Mental Health First Aid Training
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses teach participants how to assist people who are developing a mental health problem, experiencing a worsening of an existing mental health problem or in a mental health crisis, until appropriate professional help is received, or the crisis resolves. All courses are delivered by an Accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor.
CQUniversity recognised the need to ensure that our Research division was taking part in ensuring a safe environment for our students. Student training in Respectful Relationships occurs at every one of our RHD Intensives (3 times per year) and is a core attendance session for all new students.
Supervisor training in Respectful Relationships is a mandatory component in our Accelerate training for principal supervisors. There have also been specific sessions for RHD Supervisors (staff).
Universities should ensure that disclosures and reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment are collected and stored confidentially and used for continuous improvement of processes
CQUniversity has three platforms for storing disclosures and reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment, including our Sugar CRM (under restricted access), CAMMS confidential reporting system and via our Complaints channel (Logged via email in a secure common drive).
Our Student Critical Incident Policy and Procedure sets clear expectations for the disclosure of incidents which includes a debriefing with relevant staff to review and further inform processes.
CQUniversity is committed to the secure management of information and systems utilising a policy framework based on the international standard for security management systems and applies rigid controls to manage logical access to sensitive data to protect the confidentiality of information as well as integrity and availability requirements. Access requirements are assessed against the Queensland Government Authentication Framework and the Information Assets Security Classification Policy.
Universities should conduct an audit of University Counselling Services
Early 2020 saw the completion of an overall Audit of CQUniversity’s response to the Change the Course recommendations. Part of this Audit reassessed results from a benchmarking exercise in 2018, which identified that the CQUniversity Counselling and Wellbeing team had a Counselling Coordinator and five Counsellors, equating to one counsellor for approximately 5800 students. In response to this initial assessment, two new staff were appointed in 2019 to assist with managing intake/triage and to ensure a more sustainable model for responding to students who contact the service.
Training for the Counselling and Wellbeing Team has been provided through professional development opportunities that are informed through formal learning experiences and through consultation with experts in this area, including sexual and gendered violence experts from CQU Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research.
Universities commit to the delivery of a national university survey into sexual assault and harassment every three years
This recommendation has been actioned by Universities Australia on behalf of all universities. CQUniversity is committed to being an active participant in the initiative and welcomes the results of the National Student Safety Survey in 2022 to further inform our approaches to responding to and preventing sexual and gender-based violence.
Commission and independent review of residential colleges and university residences
Student Residences were particularly earmarked in the Change the Course Report as having a salient role in embedding safe, respectful and supportive environments for University Students.
Alcohol and Drug Education Specialists (ADES) were commissioned by CQU Student Residences to conduct an independent review into the CQU Rockhampton and CQU Mackay colleges. In total ADES met with 31 CQU staff and residents, in person and via video conference, between March 10th to May 11th 2021.
The result of the independent report commends the University for positive cultural change initiatives but highlights a number of recommendations to further enhance service delivery to out students.
As at 1 February 2022, 77% of the recommendations have been actioned and marked as complete with a further 25% in progress or under consideration.