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In Australia, major strides by universities in responding to sexual assault

19 8 1

FOUR years ago, the Hunting Ground documentary explored the failure of university administrations to adequately respond to sexual assault on college campuses in the United States.

Universities in Australia and elsewhere also came under the spotlight.

Reports from advocacy groups and journalists detailed the shocking rates of sexual violence in Australian university settings and poor university responses to them.

With funding from the Hunting Ground Australia project, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) conducted a national survey on the prevalence and nature of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities. Almost 31,000 students participated. The landmark AHRC report, Change the Course, was released in August 2017.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cw787OnzNwVideo can’t be loaded: The Hunting Ground Australia Project Panel with The Guardian (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cw787OnzNw)

The report highlighted high rates of sexual violence against university students in Australia, massive under-reporting, and a lack of adequate university policies and practices to address the problem. The message was clear: universities need to do more.

Australian universities have a unique opportunity to show leadership to the rest of the community on sexual assault and sexual harassment.

But how much progress have Australian universities made since the release of the AHRC’s report in August 2017?

SEE ALSO: How to ensure 50/50 gender representation isn’t just a pipe dream

A widespread problem

Sexual violence and sexual harassment are not unique to university settings.

These behaviours are also widely reported in other institutions such as the military, detention centres, workplaces, schools, the legal profession, politics, the medical profession, the media, religious institutions and the entertainment industry.

The AHRC survey found one in 15 university students (6.9 percent) reported having been sexually assaulted on at least one occasion in 2015 and 2016 (1.6 percent in a university setting).

1 in 15 university students reported having been sexually assaulted on at least one occasion in 2015 and 2016. Source: Shutterstock

One in two students (51 percent) reported having been sexually harassed on at least one occasion in 2016 (26 percent in a university setting).

As described in........

© Asian Correspondent