The University of Newcastle, Australia

Respect. Now. Always

The University of Newcastle is clear that sexual assault is a crime and sexual harassment is completely unacceptable, on or off campus. We are committed to ensuring an effective, sensitive and coordinated approach to preventing and managing incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Management

The establishment of the Sexual Misconduct Working Group in 2017 has led the review of the University’s approach to sexual assault and sexual harassment, including policies, reporting systems, support, and education and prevention. As part of their work, the group has engaged with a number of external agencies to provide expertise and advice in areas of process, resources and training. The working group continues to meet to review and reflect on the effectiveness of current practice, and any new work that is introduced.

Policies

In 2017, the Sexually Based Assault or Harassment Response Policy, and accompanying Sexually Based Assault or Harassment Procedure, were implemented, adding to the University’s strong policy suite to support the expectations of a safe and respectful community.

Reporting

Reports or disclosures of sexual assault and sexual harassment are handled with sensitivity and support for all people affected by an incident. The University uses a victim/survivor led approach, our primary concern being the reporter’s safety and wellbeing.

  • In 2017 a centralised reporting and management system for incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment was introduced, providing options for reports to be made in person, over the phone, or online – either anonymously, or identified.
  • If an identified report has been received, Campus Care will contact the reporter to provide avenues for support, assess for risk and safety management, and explain internal and external processes available to them.
  • The University will also support a student who wishes to report to the NSW Police; where options are available to lodge an informal report, or to pursue a formal investigation.
  • Campus Care can also support staff members who may have received a disclosure, and coordinate the management of reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment, ensuring there is a centralised record and management system for such matters.

Security Services may also be contacted for concerns of immediate safety, or incidents on-campus after hours. Security will work with the victim/survivor and Campus Care.

Support

Support is the initial concern for all incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and continues to be offered in the life cycle of any sexual assault and sexual harassment matter.

  • UON’s After-hours Crisis Support Line (1300 653 007) was introduced in 2018 and is available to all students. They can be contacted weekdays 5pm – 9pm, and 24 hours on weekends and public holidays.

    This service complements our existing practices in managing support for those affected by sexual assault or sexual harassment.
  • Within the Counselling service support for students is managed through a triage system, allowing flexibility and escalating urgent matters.
  • Confidential provisions and coordinated support through Campus Care can be been made for students whose academic studies have been affected, such as arranging additional time of assignments or rescheduling exams. Details as to why extensions need to be arranged are not disclosed to the academic staff member.
  • Within Student Living, a dedicated clinical staff member, the Health and Wellbeing Coordinator supports on-campus residents with any concerns to their health and welfare, or concerns regarding the health and welfare of other residents. All matters are handled with sensitivity and confidentiality.
  • The University wants to ensure the victim/survivor receives the best care possible so, with their agreement, may also inform or refer victim/survivors to other external agencies specialising in sexual assault and sexual harassment.
  • The University also acknowledges that it may be difficult to support a friend or someone else who has experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment. UON offers advice on how this may be managed, how to support a friend, and how to seek support and practice self-care.

Education and Training

The University recognises the importance of education and training in the areas of respectful relationships; consent and sexual assault and sexual harassment; and the impact it has on prevention, and supporting individuals who may be affected.

  • Since 2015, all residents of Student Living must attend a compulsory gender-based session with Brent Sanders, focusing on consent, the law, and your rights and responsibilities.
  • The University proactively worked with the UK based organisation Epigeum to develop the online Consent Matters Module. This module was first introduced to Student Living residents in 2016, and was made mandatory for all students in 2018.
  • Introduced in 2017, Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence, is an online course available to all staff members. Particularly important for frontline staff, this training supports their knowledge of how to respond appropriately if students turn to them for help.
  • Introduced in 2019, Sex, Safety and Respect provides face-to-face training in ethical negotiation and communication; consent and the law; and being an ethical bystander.

The University is committed to participate in the Changing the Course follow-up survey in August 2020, and promoting and encouraging this important opportunity for students to participate.