Yesterday the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released their results regarding sexual assault on campus across the nation. A content warning for this article as it includes details and statistics on sexual assault, sexual violence and rape. Listed below are contact points if you need to talk to anyone regarding sexual assault.

The Newcastle University Students’ Association (NUSA) stands with survivors of sexual assault, we believe you, we will stand with you in solidarity and we will fight for you. We recognise that we live in a patriarchal society that implicitly blames survivors and victims for their sexual assault but we know that the fault lies purely with the perpetrator. Everyone deserves to be safe from violence of any kind regardless of whether it is on or off campus. NUSA does not condone any form of victim blaming, whether it be through policy or societal attitudes.  NUSA also recognises that women, people of colour, Indigenous, queer, transgender and gender diverse, international, people with disabilities and other members of marginalised groups are at an increased risk to be victims of sexual assault and this must be addressed.

From the AHRC report ‘Change the Course: National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian Universities’ found that one in two students were sexually harassed on at least one occasion in 2016. One in four students were sexually harassed in an ‘university setting’ on at least one occasion in 2016. LGBTQI, individuals with a disability and indigenous students were drastically affected by sexual harassment on campus with much higher rates of assault in comparison to other groups. The University of Newcastle (UoN) had a higher rate than the national results with 55% of respondents from UoN having experienced sexual harassment in 2016 and 31% having experienced sexual harassment at university in 2016.

The University of Newcastle (UoN) has released a variety of initiatives over the last few weeks and has indicated that they will continue to address the problem of sexual assault on campus. UoN has launched its campaign ‘Consent Matters’ with Campus Care which aims to educate students on matters of consent. The campaign includes a blackboard module for consent and as of this semester all individuals living in UoN residencies have completed consent training. UoN has also improved their sexual assault reporting measures including an informal disclosure procedure. Counselling and support are also available to sexual assault survivors. The information for reporting, counselling and information will be at the bottom of this release. In the face of the AHRC release and pressure from students and staff to tackle the rape culture on all campuses, the university has chosen to respond with the initiatives mentioned above. NUSA is anticipating the continued response from the university after the release of these results. We will continue to hold the university accountable to taking measurable and significant changes at the university for issues around sexual assault and for justice for survivors of sexual assault. We will ensure that the university continues with the measures in place and puts in place further measures to make all UoN campuses safer for all students especially those in minorities that are at increased risk for sexual violence. We will also be pushing for UoN to put in place the recommendations made by the Australian Human Rights Commission in the coming months.

Resources:

Campus Security: (02) 4921 5888 24/7 – for any emergences on campus

Campus Care: (32) 4921 8600 Mon- Fri

NSW Rape Crisis Centre for telephone and online counselling. Ph: 1800 424 017

National Counselling Helpline for sexual assault and domestic violence. Ph: 1800 737 732

Counselling Appointments at UoN: https://uonblogs.newcastle.edu.au/counselling/sample-page/about/booking-appointments/

Information about Sexual assault and Harassment at UoN: https://www.newcastle.edu.au/current-students/support/solving-issues/managing-allegations-of-sexually-based-assault-and-harassment

 

Consent Matters Initiative: https://www.newcastle.edu.au/current-students/support/health-counselling-and-wellbeing/your-sexual-health/consentmatters

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Online Counselling through UoN: https://uonblogs.newcastle.edu.au/onlinecounselling/online-support/blog/

Reporting Sexual Misconduct at UoN: https://www.newcastle.edu.au/current-students/support/solving-issues/managing-allegations-of-sexually-based-assault-and-harassment/reporting-sexual-misconduct