Australian Human Rights Commission Report

In early 2016, Universities Australia (UA) launched the whole-of-sector Respect. Now. Always.   initiative to raise awareness and lift the visibility of support services, to guide improvements in policy and practice in sexual harassment and sexual violence, and to share best practice and resources among member universities.  As part of the initiative, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) conducted a large-scale survey of students across Australia to ensure universities’ efforts and resources are focussed on the areas of greatest need and impact and to inform next steps to prevent and address sexual assault and harassment.  UniSA was on board with this initiative throughout. We are committed to doing everything we can to provide a culturally and physically safe environment for our students and staff; safety is paramount and we will always be open to feedback about what we can do to ensure experiences at UniSA are about growth, wellbeing and learning.

In the context of the Respect. Now. Always. Campaign and the recommendations of the End Rape on Campus submission to the AHRC, Connecting the dots: Understanding Sexual Assault in University Communities, the Vice Chancellor initiated a review to ensure that our University has in place the appropriate policies, structures, supports and culture to provide a safe, positive and nurturing environment for students. Following a period of extensive consultation, a range of recommendations were presented to the Senior Management Group for consideration and these were approved on 26 July 2017.

The AHRC’s National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities was released on August 1 2017 and outlined the Commission’s findings on the prevalence and nature of sexual assault and sexual harassment at all Australian universities.  The report includes a series of recommendations to assist universities to deal with the challenges that currently exist and to contribute to changing the national culture to one that does not tolerate sexual assault or sexual harassment in any form.

Based on the AHRC Report and UniSA’s Policy Review, the university is in the process of implementing all recommendations and actions as part of a phased approach. A Senior Leadership Group has also been established to oversee this work and current actions completed to date include:

  • Provision of increased resources and support services for students including enhanced promotion of the Safe Zone app, promotion of UniSafe service where campus security staff provide an escort service after hours and increased access to drop-in counselling services.

  • All Counsellors have undergone ‘Responding to Trauma’ training with 97 front line staff and student leaders completed ‘Recognise and Respond’ Training provided by Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service.

  • Creation of a dedicated webpage to assist students and staff access the appropriate resources, supports and details steps to be taken when a disclosure or report of sexual assault/harassment is made.

  • Orientation Week information added to ensure all commencing students are aware of the university’s commitment to a safe and respectful environment and that there is zero tolerance for incidents of sexual assault/harassment on campus.

  • Ongoing messaging in our ‘all student’ e-zine reinforcing the message that there is zero tolerance of incidents of sexual assault/harassment on campus and providing details of where to seek support if needed.

  • A Project Steering Group and Project team established to implement all recommendations from the AHRC report and membership includes external experts.

  • Develop a standalone trauma-informed sexual misconduct policy which is written in survivor-centric language

  • Develop a well-defined sexual misconduct procedure/protocol for staff and students. The procedure/protocol to include the following components:

    • A ‘triage model’ case management team for critical incidents, such as sexual assault

    • Explain the services available through external support organisations

  • The University will ensure that a ‘fit for purpose’ support structure exists around student wellbeing, and that students are aware of the relevant resources available both internal and external to the University.

  • Develop a plan that delivers a programmatic approach to student/staff training, and identifies existing resources and communications campaigns to reinforce key messages of education programs.

  • Develop a framework for central reporting system to assist both students and staff with disclosures and reporting.

For information about the University’s initiatives or to discuss any of the matters above, please email

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External Support

Yarrow Place
Rape & Sexual Assault Service
1800 817 421

SHine SA
Sexual Health Education Agency
1300 794 584