Findings from the 2021 National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) commissioned by Universities Australia (UA) have been released today (23 March' 2022).
The 2021 NSSS was delivered by the Social Research Centre (SRC) from 6 September – 3 October 2021' with the purpose of collecting data on the scale and nature of university experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Nationally' more than 43'000 students completed the survey' with 1'146 undergraduate and postgraduate students at CQUniversity taking part.
As part of this' CQUniversity has also released findings from its own institutional report which can be found at www.cqu.edu.au/nsss
CQUniversity's Vice-Chancellor and President' Professor Nick Klomp said that the findings contained within both the national report and CQUniversity's own report showed that sexual harassment and sexual assault continue to be issues for students on Australian university campuses and in the broader community.
"The results show that sexual harassment and sexual assault occurs in all corners our society. This is not acceptable and as a sector' we must be part of the solution.
"Universities' whether it be physical campus spaces' or online platforms' should be safe places' and these results show us that we must do more when it comes to preventing and responding to sexual harassment and sexual assault.
"CQUniversity strives to create learning and working environments that are safe' inclusive and respectful. Even one incident of sexual harassment or sexual assault within a university is too many'" said Professor Klomp.
Professor Klomp explained how CQUniversity will use these findings to instigate new actions aimed at stamping out sexual harassment and sexual assault and better supporting victim-survivors.
"We will engage with our staff and students by convening a university-wide working group that will be responsible for developing and implementing a new whole-of-university Action Plan that will address these findings'" he said.
The last CQUniversity action plan developed following the release of the Change the Course report in 2017 helped to facilitate the implementation of several actions that sought to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual assault within a university context. Some of the initiatives implemented at CQUniversity in recent years included:
· Improved information delivery related to consent' respect' the code of conduct and support services within CQUniversity's new student orientation programs.
· The delivery of an independent review into prevention requirements at CQUniversity's residential colleges.
· The development of a student critical incident policy and procedure.
· The development of a student conduct policy and procedure.
· The development of a student workshop series focusing on healthy behaviours' respectful relationships and consent.
· The development of compulsory pre-departure briefings for students prior to travelling (pre-COVID).
· The delivery of first response training to student facing staff and student peer leaders.
· The appointment of a student wellbeing project officer (with a strong focus on health and wellbeing promotion).
· The development of a confidential reporting system to track the prevalence of disclosures of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
· The development of a university-wide promotional campaign to promote reporting and support mechanisms.
· The development of staff guidelines for responding to disclosures of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
· The introduction of an out of hours support line for student counselling.
"The work we have completed in recent years has brought about valuable changes but there is always more that can be done and must be done."
Professor Klomp also stressed his gratitude to students from all universities' across Australia' who participated in the 2021 NSSS.
"I would like to thank every student who contributed to this survey' especially those who bravely shared their own personal experiences.
"Their participation will ultimately help every university in Australia to continue implementing actions that make our universities safer."
CQUniversity understands that the findings released today and the discussions that will follow may be distressing for staff and students at the university as well as for members of the wider community. CQUniversity students who need support are encouraged to connect with the University's free and confidential support services' including:
· CQUniversity Student Counselling and Wellbeing: email@example.com or 07 4930 9456. Students can also visit www.cqu.edu.au/counselling.
· CQU Out of Hours Student Support Line: 1300 226 987 or text 0480 097 747.
· Details of Australia-wide university support and safety services are also listed on the Universities Australia website at www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au
The following national services are also recommended to anyone for anyone who has found this content distressing.
· 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732 or 1800respect.org.au
· Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au
· QLife: 1800 184 527 or qlife.org.au
· MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au
· Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36 or beyondblue.org.au