2 August 2017

NAAUC would like to express our alarm and sadness at the results released by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC). We believe the students we advocate for; of all genders, sexualities, abilities and backgrounds, have the right to live in safe, inclusive environments. The data released in the AHRC ‘Change the course’ report indicates that some students are not having this experience, due to sexual assault and harassment occurring across universities and in residences.

The information is distressing and completely unacceptable. We cannot ignore what it tells us: 1 in 5 students were sexually harassed in the last year on campus, 1.6% of students have been sexually assaulted in the last 2 years on campus, and of those students who have been sexually assaulted on university campus, 34% live in residential accommodation. It is clear that changes within our universities and the residential industry need to occur.

This is an incredibly important time for residences to review and act. We encourage students to read the results of the survey. We also encourage students to respond to the UNSW Human Rights Centre recommendation report entitled ‘On Safe Ground: A Good Practice Guide for Australian Universities’, which will be released on August 3rd. It will recommend ways in which universities and residences can improve the way they tackle sexual assault and harassment, and will be an invaluable tool moving forwards.

To survivors; we stand with you, we believe you, and you should never feel as though you have to stand alone in your fight for justice. You have been let down at the times when you needed help the most, and that must change. To the students who make up our communities, you should feel empowered to advocate for change within your residence and work alongside your administration to improve responses to sexual harassment and assault. Make use of the services that your university provides and ensure that students in your residence know where they can go for support. NAAUC will always support residences who strive to improve the safety, health and happiness of its students in every way they can.

If you require support, you can make use of the national university support line (1800 572 224) which has been set up to help with anyone who may be struggling at this time. Alternatively, many support services are available within your state and university, details of which can be found here.  

You can read the full Australian Human Rights Commission Report here.

If NAAUC can be of any assistance to you or your residence, please reach out to us. We want to support and assist you however we can. We have an obligation to stamp out sexual assault and harassment in our communities. This is an opportunity for our industry to stand up and do the right thing, and we hope that everyone takes it.