The University of Sydney today published the results of its Safer Community For All survey.
Conducted in September 2015, the survey is the first of its kind to be commissioned by an Australian university and was developed in collaboration with the Student Representative Council, the University Student Union and women’s officers, with guidance from the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The University invited all currently enrolled students to complete the survey in order to gauge students’ experiences of sexual harassment and assault, and gather feedback on the University’s procedures for reporting and student support. The survey was analysed independently by two current PhD students at the University, who produced the report and its five recommendations.
The findings from the survey were consistent with other similar surveys conducted in Australia. Of the 1,926 students that responded, one in four reported having experienced an incident of sexual harassment or assault while enrolled as a student, and 6.2 percent of all respondents had experienced an incident on campus or at a University-related event.
The survey also revealed that only 18.9 percent of students who had experienced an incident reported it to anyone.
In an email sent to all students today, Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence affirmed the University’s zero tolerance policy on harassment within the University community.
“It is alarming that one in four of our students who responded are victims of any form of sexual harassment or assault. The low rate of reporting is also quite troubling,” he said.
“Behaviour that is intimidating, abusive, disrespectful, or threatening, including any instance of sexual harassment or assault, is absolutely not acceptable within our community or on our campuses.”
The Safer Community survey report put forward five recommendations, which were endorsed by the University’s Senior Executive Group in February.
Since then work has already been done on some of those recommendations, in particular to improve the ability of the University to respond to an incident to meet student expectations. Some of the actions taken so far include:
Of the actions taken, Dr Spence said: “These are important first steps, however there is much more to be done as we work together towards creating an inclusive campus where all students feel safe and supported.”
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