The University of Melbourne has released its National Student Safety Survey data on the experience of sexual harassment and sexual assault among university students in 2021.
43,819 students from 39 Australian universities responded to the 2021 National Student Safety Survey, which was commissioned and funded by Universities Australia on behalf of all universities.
The University of Melbourne strongly encouraged students to participate and 1,481 students responded out of a random sample of 9,992 students, achieving one of the highest response rates of 14.8%.
University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said the results show there is still a lot to be done to make our campuses safer.
“The safety and well-being of our University community is our top priority and any experience of sexual assault and sexual harassment is unacceptable,” Professor Maskell said. “The data is confronted; but it is important to use this information to motivate the change needed to make our campuses safe for our community.
The Dean of the University of Melbourne, Professor Nicola Phillips, who oversees the University’s main Respect work programme, thanked the many students, including victim-survivors, who lent their voices to this important inquiry.
“I acknowledge your experiences and the experiences of all survivors in our community. I understand the personal impact these discussions have on you,” Prof Phillips said.
“Thank you to everyone in the community who finds the courage to come forward, so that we can take action and do the right thing. Please continue to work with us on this.
“These results make it difficult to read. As a university, we should be deeply disappointed. This is a pressing issue for all who study and work at the University of Melbourne and clearly we still have a lot to do. »
The University’s comprehensive Respect at Melbourne work program aims to eliminate sexual misconduct and reinforce a victim-centred and trauma-informed approach to dealing with incidents that arise. It includes the following initiatives:
- A new stand-alone Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Policy (MPF1359) was released in 2021 and is being applied with caution, fairness and determination.
- A comprehensive respect education program empowers everyone at the University to play an active role in identifying, responding to, and preventing sexual misconduct. Workshops have been offered to the University’s most senior leaders, including Council, executive and faculty, and the program will soon be offered to all other University staff.
- A new primary prevention framework guides the development of a new compliance action plan.
- A Respect Committee in Melbourne, chaired by the Provost and including student representatives, has been set up to ensure that the right mix of people within our University community are working on this issue.
- The rollout of a major confidential reporting tool will begin in a few weeks, encouraging more people to report sexual misconduct they experience, witness or hear about, anonymously if they wish.
- Last year, a spectator awareness email campaign was sent to all students and staff to encourage and empower spectator action against sexism and sexual harassment.
Professor Phillips encouraged any students, staff or alumni who have experienced sexual misconduct to contact the Safer Community program to report incidents and access a range of confidential support and advice. A list of external support services is also available below.