University residences should be doing everything possible to stop sexual violence on campus

I AGREE

The Issue

Recent reports suggest that sexual violence is occurring at an alarming rate in our universities. In October 2016, Sunday Night program revealed a Freedom of Information (FOI) investigation that uncovered 575 cases of sexual violence in Australian universities in the last five years alone.[1] In the 2015 ‘Talk About It’ survey conducted by the National Union of Students, hundreds of students reported that they had had sexual intercourse when they felt unable to consent. Of the 1,000 respondents; 25% reported an unwanted sexual experience, and 7% reported that they had been raped.[2]

At the same time, research from Our Watch - the National Foundation for the Prevention of Violence against Women and their Children - shows that a quarter of young people think it’s ‘normal’ for a boy to pressure girls to perform sexual acts.[3]

Furthermore, survivors of sexual violence on University campuses are reporting that staff dealing with disclosures of sexual violence often don’t know how to respond appropriately; increasing the risk of further traumatising survivors who have worked up the courage to report such violence.

Too many students don’t know what it means to get informed consent. Increasing student and staff understanding of consent, and prevention of sexual violence is a crucial step towards eliminating the culture and attitudes that allow perpetrators to commit sexual violence unchallenged.

University residences are in a unique position to lead this change. As the home-away-from-home for thousands of students at university, residences are a training ground for our young people in a formative stage of their lives. During “O-week” and throughout the year many university residences already offer programs and training aimed at improving student welfare. Given the alarming rate of sexual violence being perpetrated on campus, it’s time all residences made addressing this issue a priority; starting by providing best-practice training in consent and sexual violence prevention.

In September 2016, Fair Agenda contacted all of the university residences in Australia with a survey regarding what, if any, training they will provide to students and staff in that area in 2017.

Fair Agenda is a community campaigning organisation made up of 37,000 Australians concerned about equality and fairness for women. We believe that no matter where you live, or attend university, you should be able to trust that everything possible is being done to ensure you're living in a safe environment.

The results published on this website represent a summary of key survey responses provided by 129 residences who have responded to the survey so far, regarding the training they are planning on providing to their students and staff in 2017.

You can view the summary of the results of key survey questions under the 'Results' section of this website, and access the full responses provided by residences on the 'detailed results' page of this website.

Fair Agenda has launched a public call for all university residences to do everything possible to create a safe environment for students – starting with training all students and relevant staff in consent and sexual violence prevention in 2017.

Of course, consent training is an important first step, but is not the last. Supportive policies and practices around disclosure are also vital.

Will you join the call for action? Sign the petition at the bottom of this page to help show university residences around the country that this is an issue students, parents, alumni and the broader community all want them to treat as a priority. 

Please note: Fair Agenda is not a provider of consent and prevention of sexual assault training or services. If you are looking for a best practice provider, we would encourage you to contact the Full Stop Foundation, check out our this list of services that provide training that complies with the National Standards in this area, or contact your state sexual assault service for other recommendations.

-- If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for 24/7 support.--

Sources:

[1] "Sunday Night" program, Channel 7, 25 Sept 2016
[2]  National Union of Students "Talk About It" Survey, 2015 
[3] Our Watch“The Line” report, 22 Feb 2016

Get Involved

To all Australian University Residences,

We urge you to do everything possible to prevent sexual violence on campus. As a first step, we call on every university residence to implement best-practice training in sexual consent and prevention of sexual violence for all students and relevant staff in 2017.

Will you sign?