ANUSA Announces Broken Promises SASH Protest on Monday

CW: This article makes explicit mention of sexual assault, sexual harassment and institutional betrayal.

ANUSA’s Women’s Department has announced that a protest will be held on the 2nd of August on University Avenue, jointly organised by ANUSA, ANUSA’s Women’s Department, PARSA, and the Interhall Council. ANUSA’s Women’s Officer, Avan Daruwalla, stated that the protest was in response to a lack of action by the ANU to address concerns around sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH) on campus.

In the 2017 National Report on Sexual Asssault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities, the Australian Human Rights Commission found that the ANU ranked second worst nationally for its responses to SASH incidents. This report found that 51% of university students experienced sexual assault in 2016, and that a significant number of these assaults occurred in university settings. Daruwalla elaborated that with every report on sexual assault at ANU, or university campuses in general, more promises of reform are made, and that “[m]any of these promises have been broken…”. It is against these ‘broken promises’ that the organisers are protesting. 

As part of the initiative, ANUSA is also releasing the 2021 Broken Promise Report. This report details the ANU’s progress in responding to SASH incidents, as well as presenting key recommendations from the protest’s organisers.

Avan Daruwalla, the ANU Women’s Officer, said: “The purpose of this protest is to call out ANU’s negligence in consistently breaking promises and demand reparations for their disrespect of survivors”. She stated that “promises are made to protect the community and stand with Survivors – every broken promise contributes to the acceptance of violent behaviour, leaves women feeling unsafe, and renders support services useless to survivors”. Daruwalla said that the ANU is “failing to complete” the promises broken “with no explanation to students”. 

In a Change.org petition, the organisers call for a number of reforms, such as prioritising survivors over reputation and the development of a Cultural Action Plan. The petition also calls for the ANU to fully fund the Respectful Relationships Unit (RRU). However, an ANU Spokesperson stated that the RRU was already fully funded but was in the process of filling vacant positions. 

The organisers have also called for the ANU to apologise for the lack of reform since the 2017 National Report, and that the ANU committed to every recommendation of the 2021 Broken Promises Report. An ANU Spokesperson cited the launch of an online disclosure tool, establishment of the RRU, updated training and the Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy as steps already taken by the University to address SASH incidents. The University “want[s] to improve [its] processes and [its] practices”, stating that “[t]he voices of students and survivors have shown that we need to better understand what students are experiencing to improve our responses further”.

ANUSA announced its support for survivors, stating  “Survivors – we see you, we believe you and we stand with you. Today and every day.” 

A full list of ANUSA’s demands can be found at their petition here.

If you or someone you know has been affected by any content raised in this article, please contact one of the support services below:

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, Crisis Line
(02) 6247 2525

ANU Counselling
(02) 6125 2442

1800 RESPECT
1800 737 732

ANU Women’s Department
sa.womens@anu.edu.au

ANU Queer* Department
sa.queer@anu.edu.au

ANU Respectful Relationships Unit
respect@anu.edu.au