Australia's uni sexual assault survey: What you need to know

Australia's uni sexual assault survey: What you need to know

Concerning statistics on sexual harassment and sexual assault in universities have hit the public sphere in Australia. Here's the Kindlings wrap-up on key findings, and what steps universities should now be taking towards eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment in Australia.


Key Findings


Women are more at risk

Women were 3 times as likely as men to have been sexually assaulted in a university setting in 2015 or 2016.

Students often know the perpetrator

51% of students who were sexually assaulted and 45% of students who were sexually harassed knew some or all of the perpetrators.

Students aren't reporting incidents

87% of students who were sexually assaulted did not make a formal report or complaint to their university.


What universities should be doing now

There were 10 recommendations made to universities, which called for timely leadership in changing cultures in a safe way and improving accessibility of reporting, counselling and education. You can read all 10 an the details here, but these are the key components.

Vice chancellors to take responsibility

Vice chancellors are in charge and should employ an advisory board responsible for implementing and reporting on the recommendations.

Education programs will focus on cultural change

Unis will need to assess what factors are driving sexual harassment and assault and implement education programs and communication that promotes cultural change.

Practical measures to make reporting accessible

Unis will need to increase awareness and accessibility of reporting processes through practical measures, like including them on visible, logical places on their websites.

Have policies and incident response processes independently reviewed

Unis should commission an independent, expert-led review of current policies and response pathways within a year, and immediately  draw on expertise to develop and review processes for sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Find out what gaps there are in counselling services, and fix them fast

Conduct and audit of counselling services and collect data to determine whether additional services are required to meet the urgent needs of students, and if so, ensure these additional resources are in place as soon as possible.

Colleges and residencies should review the factors leading to sexual assaults and harassment (like 'hazing' induction rituals and alcohol)

University residences and colleges should commission independent expert reviews of factors like the role of alcohol and initiation ceremonies or 'traditions', appropriate responses to reported incidents, the level of training residential advisors need to serve as first responders to sexual harassment or assault.


The full report is publicly available and you can download The National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities (2017) here.


Where to go for support

If anything in this article has affected or distressed you, you can contact the following support services:

•    1800RESPECT (Ph: 1800 737 732) – National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service
•    Lifeline (Ph: 13 11 14) – 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention
•    Beyondblue (Ph: 1300 224 636) – Mental health support
•    Suicide Call Back Service (Ph: 1300 659 467)

If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment and feel you would like to speak to someone for support or information, 1800RESPECT (Ph: 1800 737 732) can provide counselling 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you have experienced sexual harassment, you can also make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission by calling their infoline on 1300 656 419 (local call).


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