Date: 
Wednesday 1 August 2018

Today marks one year since the release of the landmark Change the course report into sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.

To coincide with the anniversary, the Australian Human Rights Commission has conducted an audit of Australian Universities responses to the Change the course recommendations.

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said she’s encouraged to see significant progress has been made.

“We must not be complacent though. We must continue to monitor and evaluate progress if we are to make a difference,” Commissioner Jenkins said.

The responses from universities, about the steps they’ve taken, have been published on the Australian Human Rights Commission website today.

  • 39 universities reported implementing, or a commitment to implementing, training and education in relation to sexual assault, sexual harassment and respectful relationships.
  • 39 universities reported that they have taken steps to increase the availability and visibility of their support services.
  • 22 universities reported that they have launched or will launch apps for students that offer a range of information and services including links to support services, links to campus security or information on consent and relationships.
  • 37 universities reported implementing, or a commitment to implementing, a review of existing university policies and response pathways in relation to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
  • 39 universities reported identifying staff members and student representatives most likely to receive disclosures of sexual assault and sexual harassment and ensured they have received training in responding to disclosures or are preparing to do so.
  • 29 universities have reported taking steps to review factors which contribute to sexual assault and sexual harassment in their residential colleges and university residences.

Commissioner Jenkins said it is vital that universities maintain momentum for this work and that they are transparent about their progress.

“As we have seen over the last year, sexual assault and sexual harassment continue to occur at unacceptable rates not only within universities, but across our society at large.

“I commend universities for undertaking this work and for the progress that has been made since 2017, as well as the efforts of survivors and advocates who have worked hard for many years to drive change.

“The Australian Human Rights Commission remains committed to working with universities, and also residential colleges, to assist in any way we can with the implementation of the recommendations,” Commissioner Jenkins said.

Full details of university responses can be found here: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/audit-2018