CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses sexual harassment and assault.

24% of students at the University of Canberra experienced sexual harassment on campus in 2016. 

A further 2% also experienced sexual harassment whilst travelling to and from university grounds.

These statistics have been released as the results from the Australian Human Rights Commission Respect. Now. Always. survey were made public today.

In April, the University of Canberra, along with thirty-nine other universities committed to publicly release their data. 

There were 460 respondents from UC to the survey, which ran from September to November of last year.

Overall, 54% of UC students reported they experienced sexual harassment in 2016, this includes both on and off campus, and is 3% higher than the national average.

Only 1% of UC respondents said they fully know the procedure for seeking assistance on sexual assault at UC, with 22.8% claiming they know nothing about this.

In 2015 and/or 2016 7.2% of UC students were sexually assaulted with 1.1% occurring on campus. 2.2% of respondents said they witnessed a sexual assault on campus.

UCSRC Education Vice-President Mat Klumper said the statistics were simply unacceptable.

“The stats should be zero for all of them I mean that’s the ideal figure and it’s something that we want to work towards improving and saying as university students that certain things are never ok,” said Klumper.

“We’re actually going to work with the university in trying to improve it and we’re going to use as many resources as they are willing to give us.”

Klumper also said the university could have responded better to the issue in the past but believes they are making improvements.

UCSRC President, Darcy Egan said that any report that shows sexual assault is occurring on campus is “a bad result.”

However, Egan said the SRC is working to combat the idea that the systemic culture of universities is one which includes sexual harassment and assault.

“We’ve been sitting on the RNA working committee to collaborate on the Respect. Now. Always. campaign and help with it’s delivery to UC,” he said.

“As part of that we have successfully lobbied for the implementation of the consent matters module at UC, which as of [yesterday], is live, with discussions on it’s most effective delivery ongoing.”

UC Vice-Chancellor and President-Professor Deep Saini said that sexual and interpersonal violence has no place at the university.

“Here at UC, we all have the right to a respectful and supportive environment where we can study where we can study, work and live safely,” Professor Saini said.

“The report shows that there is work to do and the results will help us inform how we can work harder to improve our education programs, our support services, policies and practices.”

Yesterday, it was announced a new national university support line run in conjunction with counselling service, Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia has opened to offer support to students.

You can read UC’s results in full here.

If students wish to report a sexual assault, or have any other grievances on this matter, they should contact the police or the Dean of students or if they have any other grievance they should contact the UCSRC. 

The university has a range of support services for those who may require them. To make an appointment for on campus counselling, call 61 2 6201 2351.

Universities Australia hotline: 1800 572 224

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre: 6247 2525

Article by Lucy Bladen and Terry Watson 



Featured image by 1717 at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons