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Universities must acknowledge their failings & take real action on sexual assault & harassment

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Joe Nes

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Universities must acknowledge their failings & take real action on sexual assault & harassment

[Media Release] The Australian Human Rights Commission on Tuesday released its report on sexual assault and harassment at Australian universities. The report shows that universities are failing survivors and students, and that they must take action on sexual assault and harassment.

For decades now survivors and student activists have been fighting to have their voices heard in the fight against sexual violence on and off campus. The national report shows that 51% of university students have experienced sexual harassment in 2016, and 6.9% have experienced sexual assault in 2015/16.

Of the 612 students who responded to the survey from UniSA, 8.5% had experienced sexual assault 2015/16, and 49% had experienced sexual harassment in a university setting in 2016.

“Not one incidence of sexual assault and harassment is acceptable. Universities must acknowledge their failings and apologise to all survivors and students, while working to take real and meaningful action to support survivors and students, rather than engaging in tokenistic poster campaigns,” said USASA President Kayla Dickeson.

“Having students at the centre of decision-making when effecting change is pivotal to ensure that policies and services reflect student needs. Students need to be actively involved in the design of any policies that affect them.”

“USASA has strongly advocated for a reform of all policies, procedures and services since early 2016. We are currently working with the University to review all policies, procedures and services for students and staff, and will continue to do so throughout the implementation stage. We will work with the University where we can, but we always put the rights of survivors and students first.”

“We will be a fearless voice for students in holding the university accountable for their practices, and will be keeping the pressure on the institution to reform procedures and services that are survivor centric and accessible for all students. We are deeply sorry to all survivors and students who have experienced sexual violence during their time at university.”

“Universities must act to provide specialised trauma services for students, clear student-centric reporting mechanisms and transparent disciplinary outcomes, as well as meaningful education and training for the entire University community.”

If you are feeling distressed about the Australian Human Rights Commission report you can contact the National Hotline on 1800 572 224 for specialised trauma counselling. UniSA students can also book an appointment at UniSA Counselling here.

Kayla Dickeson spoke to Dean Williams from ABC radio South Australia on August 1st to discuss the report. You can listen to the story here via Soundcloud.

For any further enquiries, please contact:
USASA President Kayla Dickeson on Kayla.Dickeson@unisa.edu.au or (08) 8302 2880.