Fair Agenda Blog

Written by Tash Howson
20 October 2017
Press release

Today’s Australian Human Rights Commission report has revealed that 6.9% of university students were sexually assaulted on at least one occasion in 2015 or 2016.

The report has found that 10% of students who were sexually assaulted in a university setting in 2015 or 2016 experienced the most recent incident at a university residence; and 21% experienced the most recent sexual assault at a university or residence social event.

Yet a recent survey by community group Fair Agenda has shown that right now most residences are failing to invest adequately in prevention.

Fair Agenda approached all of Australia’s university residences with a survey asking what, if any, training they provide to students and staff in consent and prevention sexual violence.

Of the 218 residences approached, just 129 have responded to the Fair Agenda survey so far. And of those, only 60 have indicated that they are involving a sexual assault service in the provision of this year’s student training.

“It’s not good enough. We know that sexual assault is an issue at universities, and at residences – and they should be doing everything possible to ensure student safety. That includes investing in prevention and consent training.” Says Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda.

“We hear from so many students that there’s a real desire to become better educated in this area. They don’t feel they know what it means to get informed consent.” Says Sharna Bremner, End Rape on Campus Australia.

“What’s more, it’s absolutely critical that any staff responsible for student welfare receive training in how to provide an appropriate response to someone who has just been through this kind of trauma. Right now many staff are not equipped to respond appropriately - meaning that students who work up the courage to try and report what's happened to them are sometimes being re-traumatised through that process." She added.

The data released today also shows that 63% of people who saw another student being sexually assaulted in 2016 did not take action in response to the incident.

Ms Carr added: “Residences should be training students and staff around preventing sexual violence – to make sure they understand things like consent and prevention, how to respond appropriately if somebody discloses that they’ve been raped, and how to safely intervene if you see someone acting predatorily towards one of your friends.”

“It’s also vital that training is being delivered by experts – which means involving a sexual assault service. But so far less than half of the residences who have responded to Fair Agenda’s survey have indicated that they are doing that. Students deserve better." Ms Carr concluded. 

The full results of Fair Agenda’s residence survey can be accessed at www.fairagenda.org/residences_survey

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Renee Carr, media@fairagenda.org 0435 597 976

 

Available for comment:

Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda 0435 597 976

Sharna Bremner, End Rape on Campus Australia, 0401 02 249

Nina Funnell, End Rape on Campus Australia Ambassador 0438 479 831

Allison Henry, The Hunting Ground Australia Project, 0410 690 910

 

Fast facts on Fair Agenda’s survey:

  • Residences approached with survey: 218 
  • Residences who have responded to the survey: 129   

Of those:

o Residences who are training all students in preventing sexual violence: 106

o Residences that are involving experts from a sexual assault service in student training: 60

o Residences that are training all staff w welfare responsibilities in preventing and responding to sexual violence: 107

o Residences that are involving experts from a sexual assault service in that staff training: 66

Written by Renee Carr
01 August 2017

Great news! After weeks of campaign pressure, Australia’s Universities have just announced that they will establish the dedicated specialist counselling hotline for students affected by sexual assault that Fair Agenda members have helped call for!

Just last month survivor advocates revealed that Universities around the country were leaving survivors of sexual violence without adequate support. That students who had been raped or sexually assaulted during their studies were being told they would have to wait up to four weeks for a university counselling appointment, and that others who had dropped out of their degrees as a result of their assault were being refused access to university counselling services altogether.

It was a system that was failing student survivors. And things were about to get much worse, with an upcoming report on sexual violence at universities expected to trigger even more disclosures and demand for services in just a few weeks.

Then student group End Rape on Campus and survivor advocate Nina Funnell launched a call for action -- and Fair Agenda members stepped up and helped them build the pressure on universities to stop leaving rape survivors without adequate support.

In just a few days thousands of us signed the petition calling for Universities to fund the hotline, and shared powerful messages urging the Vice Chancellors and Universities Australia to stop leaving students without the support they need, including members who shared powerful messages like:

“This hotline would have changed my life and saved me years of suffering if it had existed years ago. Let's make things better for future.”

"Before I retired 20 years ago I was an academic member of an Australian university. I am appalled to hear that all this time later an issue over which I and other women campaigned is still current."

"A timely response and ability to ensure all students affected by sexual assault have access to decent counsellors trained in trauma counselling is crucial if the student is going to be able to recover... Universities need to take responsibility for this."

Then, ahead of a key meeting, Fair Agenda delivered your messages and petition signatures of support to all 39 Vice Chancellors, and the head of Universities Australia -- to make sure they knew how many alumni, students, survivors and community members backed the call for them to ensure best practice, trauma informed counselling is provided to students who have been affected by violence on campus. And just how many people would be watching and awaiting their decision.

And, together with End Rape on Campus, survivor advocate Nina Funnell and the National Union of Students – Fair Agenda members' advocacy worked! Today Universities Australia announced that they will establish a dedicated specialist counselling hotline for students affected by sexual violence during their studies.

It’s a huge win that will make a difference to the thousands of current and former students who are expected to need this service.

Together, the actions of Fair Agenda members are helping to drive really important wins that are improving the lives of tens of thousands of women.

This is a really important win. But it’s not the only thing that needs to change if we’re going to address the problem of sexual assault on campus. We also need to ensure all residences are providing training in consent and preventing sexual violence. Can you add your support to that campaign as well?

-More info-

Victory for students: Free hotline announced for victims of sexual assault, News.com.au, 22 July 2017.

Written by Renee Carr
24 July 2017

Australia’s National Standards for the primary prevention of sexual assault through education note that sexual assault prevention educators need to have competencies in: knowledge of primary prevention concepts (including theories of attitude and behaviour change), knowledge about the problem of sexual violence and an ability to respond to disclosures.

These National Standards also highlight that the inclusion of risk-avoidance discourse and advice in rape prevention education can do more harm than good. For example: telling women to avoid rape by not drinking, or focusing on self-defence for women, and not exploring strategies for perpetrators to manage their own behaviour.

Further, the recent 'On Safe Ground' Good practice guide for Australian Universities from the Australian Human Rights Centre recommends that sexual violence prevention education programs must be: specifically designed for the student-university environment; delivered by specailist trainers; available in different modes (such as online and face-to-face); and sustained and conducted every year for new staff and annual student intakes.

Below is a list of sexual assault services that have indicated to Fair Agenda that they can provide trainings for university residence contexts that comply with the National Standards:

 

The Full Stop Foundation (nationwide)

The Full Stop Foundation of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia have recently developed a range of educational resources and trainings specifically for university staff and students that are considered the gold standard in this area. This includes a Train the Trainer program.

Website: http://www.fullstopfoundation.org.au/MainMenu/Training/Sex-Safety-Respect

Phone: (02) 8585 0371
Email: training@fullstopfoundation.org.au

 

NSW Rape Crisis (New South Wales)

This service provides training via the Full Stop Foundation, as outlined above.

 

Canberra Rape Crisis (ACT and surrounding region)

Website: www.crcc.org.au

Phone: (02) 6287 3618

 

Centre for Sexual Assault (Victoria)

Website: http://www.casahouse.com.au/
Phone: (03) 9635 3610

Email: casa@thewomens.org.au

 

Yarrow Place (SA)

Phone: (08) 8226 8777

Email: info@yarrowplace.sa.gov.au

 

SARC (WA)

Phone: (08) 6458 1820

Email: SARCTraining@health.wa.gov.au

www.kemh.health.wa.gov.au/services/sarc

 

Ruby Gae (NT)

Phone: (08) 8945 0155

Website: www.rubygae.net.au

educator@rubygae.net.au

 

You can see the list of which University residences are or are not providing expert driven training in this area at: http://fairagenda.org/residences_survey

*This list is a work in progress. Do know of a service that complies with the National Standards that should be added? Get in touch via info@fairagenda.org. 

Written by Renee Carr
10 July 2017
Member survey

For more than three years Fair Agenda members have been campaigning to win changes that help bring us closer to a fair and equal future.

Whether it’s winning vital resources for the services women rely on to escape domestic violence; or blocking cruel cuts to 79,000 working parents’ time to care for their newborns – the Fair Agenda community has proven that together we can shift policies that will change lives.

And with increasing attacks on women’s rights and attempts to undermine the progress won by our foremothers – our community’s work couldn’t be more important.

So, earlier this month, we asked you – Fair Agenda members – what you want our community to be focusing on over the coming twelve months.

Here’s what you said:

Overall: The overwhelming response to this member survey was that Fair Agenda members care about a whole range of issues affecting women. In fact, when asked how important you considered a dozen different issue categories, overall Fair Agenda members told us they considered every issue somewhere between important and very important.

Priorities:  When asked which issues should be our community’s number one priority for the coming twelve months, the most popular responses were:

  1. Addressing gendered violence 
  2. Improving women’s representation (e.g. in decision-making roles);
  3. Protecting reproductive rights – including decriminalising abortion in Queensland and NSW 

Improving the accessibility and security of housing (including homelessness of older women) was the fourth biggest priority; followed by supporting the rights and wellbeing of marginalised women (including, but not limited to women who are culturally and/or linguistically diverse, or otherwise discriminated against because of their race or ethnicity).

Other issues that were ranked highly by members as priority areas were: tackling the gender pay gap, addressing broader issues of economic inequality and disadvantage (including issues like paid time to care and access to childcare), highlighting the gendered impact of changes to general public policy and services (like health and education), and calling out and countering sexism.

These results mean that over coming months we will:

As always, we will also seek to campaign on other issues of importance to our members wherever possible, including: issues of housing and homelessness, and issues that disproportionately affect women who are marginalised because of their race, culture, sexuality or any other reason. We will also continue working to ensure that all of our community's campaigns consider the experience of women who are marginalised wherever possible.

But as a small organisation with just two team members supporting our 37,000 strong membership – we don’t yet have the resources we need to campaign on all of these issues.

If you’d like to help increase our community’s ability to change, please consider making a donation to power our work here.

Fair Agenda doesn’t accept donations that would compromise our independence, like government funding or donations from political parties. Instead, our impact is only possible with support from members like you. 

Please note that Fair Agenda can accept end of financial year donations, via our preferred donor relationship with the National Foundation for Australian Women.  If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation to Fair Agenda, you can do so here by selecting Fair Agenda from the 'organisation or fund' list under 'Donation details'.  Unfortunately donations made directly to Fair Agenda are not tax deductible.

Thank you to everybody who made the time to answer the survey, and for all the Fair Agenda members who take the actions that make our community’s impact possible every day. 

Written by Renee Carr
27 June 2017
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