A Step Forward- CSU’s Response to the Sexual Assault Survey

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By Karina Robson

More than 800 Charles Sturt University students responded to a national Human Rights Commission landmark survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.
The findings revealed 18% of the CSU students surveyed have experienced sexual harassment while at university. While 3.3% have experienced sexual assault in 2015 to 2016.


Info Source: ABS

Overall, throughout the total university findings, the most harassment happened on public transport, while the most assault occurred at a university or residence social event. It was also revealed women were three times as likely to be assaulted in a university setting and were twice as likely to be harassed.

Alongside the survey, the Human Rights Commission provided nine recommendations to universities to further improve the prevention of and the response to sexual assault and harassment. Charles Sturt University will be adopting all nine of the recommendations.

CSU Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann welcomed the release of the report and says CSU will be responding through a number of key initiatives.

“Charles Sturt University is already addressing the majority of these through a number of key initiatives such as the roll-out of first responder training to staff to improve their ability to respond and support students who disclose sexual assault or sexual harassment.”

All staff will be expected to complete this training by 2018 and Professor Vann says the university will focus on moving forward and improving the approach to sexual assault and harassment.

Students will also be required to complete an online training course called Consent Matters. The course will be available to all students but will only be compulsory for students employed by CSU, take on a leadership or volunteer roles at the university.

“We have zero tolerance for sexual violence.  The Charles Sturt University community will support and protect the well-being of any victims or survivors,” Professor Vann said.

While this survey shined a light on the severity of sexual assault and harassment at universities, Professor Vann acknowledges the fact many incidents go unreported, and therefore are not documented officially.

The Human Rights Commission survey revealed 94% of students who were sexually harassed and 87% who were assaulted did not make a formal complaint.

Professor Vann says he encourages students to come forward and make suggestions on how the university can improve their reporting methods, to ensure every voice is heard.

As a part of Charles Sturt University’s effort to respond to the issues of sexual assault and harassment on campus, they have joined all other Australian universities in the Respect. Now. Always. initiative. This sector-wide campaign allows universities to respond effectively to claims of sexual assault, assist in prevention methods and allow students to receive the support they need.

Sexual assault support services:

  • National university support line: 1800 572 224(until November 30, 2017)
  • 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732
  • Lifeline: 131 114
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636