An update from the Vice-Chancellor

July 2018

To our UON communityVice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen

Our University has been part of significant national action across all universities to prevent sexual assault and harassment in our student communities, and provide greater support for survivors.

In this effort, we have been clear that sexual assault is a crime and sexual harassment is completely unacceptable, on or off campus. We stand by the principle that every student has the right to safety and to live without fear of sexual assault or harassment.

Last year, the Respect. Now. Always. initiative, led by Universities Australia, commissioned the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct the first-ever national student survey on sexual assault and harassment. This landmark study was a turning point for survivors of sexual assault and harassment among student communities, and provided all universities with a clear directive - to deliver change.

Since the release of the Commission’s Change the Course report a year ago, we have collaborated with students, and our staff, to step-up education and prevention strategies, and redouble the University’s focus on support for survivors.

We have made good progress, including:

  • Expanding our efforts on prevention and education. In 2017 the online Consent Matters course was made compulsory for students in the residential colleges. This year the course became mandatory for all UON students as part of their enrolment.
  • Working with students and staff to develop new guidelines on interaction between staff and students and providing examples of good practice.
  • Reviewing and updating reporting procedures to make the system clearer and easier for survivors to access. Reporting processes have been simplified to include a new web-based reporting form and a mobile app.
  • Establishing a new counselling triage service provided by trained health care professionals, ensuring you can receive help as quickly as possible if needed.
  • Identifying staff who are most likely to receive disclosures and providing them with specialist information and training.
  • Completing a check-in with the UON residences, providing a pathway to work with residents on improving respectful and safe behaviours by enhancing education and awareness in key areas.

While there has been good progress over the past 12 months, this is a long-term reform program and there is more to be done. We will continue to prioritise our student community by focusing our efforts on the prevention of sexual assault and harassment, and providing the best possible support for survivors.

Our first concern is always your safety and well-being. Given the one-year milestone, you may hear more about sexual assault and harassment over the coming days. To access the best possible support, please contact Campus Care.

We are committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all students, and I would like to sincerely thank all those who demonstrate they share this vision through their exemplary behaviour. I would also like to extend once again my sincere thanks to those who have been brave enough to share their experiences. In doing so, you are helping to shape a safer future for all.

Best wishes

Caroline