Community Meeting Demands Further Action Against Sexual Violence at ANU

CW: Mentions of sexual assault and sexual harassment and institutional betrayal.

Following on from the release of the National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) on March 23, which revealed higher rates of sexual violence at ANU than the national average, the ANU Women’s Department held a Special General Meeting this past Wednesday. Over 400 students, staff and alumni gathered at the meeting to initiate community action on tackling sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus.

Amidst a downpour of rain, over 400 people attended the Special General Meeting at the Kambri Amphitheatre to demand safer residences, zero tolerance of SASH and accountability from the university. Participants voted on the “Too Little, Too Late” campaign and the agendas within a Letter and Statement of Demands for the ANU.

Leaders from ANUSA, PARSA and ANU alumni read out each agenda item from the Letter and Statement of Demands, written by the Women’s Department, which attendees passed in full. The motions are calling for the creation of: 

  • an actionable Cultural Change Action Plan, 
  • a zero-tolerance approach towards students that have demonstrated violent or harassing behaviour from residential accommodation, 
  • supplementing outsourced pastoral care, the inception of an empowered oversight body including student representatives to ANU accountable and;
  • directly report to the Vice Chancellor, and a commitment to creation of prevention campaigns based directly on feedback provided by student leaders with real, on-the-ground experience.

After each motion was announced and passed, the students then each collected a carnation to bring down to the chancellery to place in front of the steps. The slow march from Kambri to the Chancellery had students, alumni and staff walk in solidarity, while chanting for the ANU to do better for the safety and wellbeing of its community members. Students also brought posters and black flags to lay over the chancellery’s garden to communicate their hurt and respect for survivors.

The “Too Little, Too Late” campaign was established in response to ANU’s announcement of its Student Safety and Wellbeing Plan to tackle issues of sexual violence and is a joint initiative of the Women’s Department, ANUSA, PARSA, the Interhall Council (IHC) and other ANUSA departments.

The Women’s Department has protested and sought change from the ANU for decades regarding the ANU’s failure to protect and support students. This meeting was a landmark protest to both educate the community about the NSSS and ANU’s new Student Safety and Wellbeing Plan. 

Avan Daruwalla, the ANUSA Women’s Officer, expressed that the “Too Little, Too Late campaign provided a very clear message to the university of what we expect to change and that their plan is simply not good enough. Students deserve better and will continue to fight until there is safety on campus”

The Women’s Department has also called for all members of the ANU community to read and sign the Letter of Concern and Support prepared by the ANU Alumni Community.

Community members can also sign the petition online. The petition will be brought to the ANU to demonstrate the demand for changes to better the institution and create a safer university.

Photography by Robin Ng.

*Editor’s note (5/4): An earlier version of this article stated that students placed roses, not carnations at the steps of the Chancelry. This article has since been amended to correct this. We apologise for this error.

If this content has triggered any concern, distress or impacted on your wellbeing, ANU provides a number of services to support student health and wellbeing including: 

Student Safety and Wellbeing 

email: student.wellbeing@anu.edu.au 

website: Health, safety & wellbeing – ANU 

ANU Counselling  

email: counselling.centre@anu.edu.au 

website: ANU Counselling – ANU 

The ANU Wellbeing and Support Line available 24/7 

phone: 1300 05 0327 SMS: 0488 884 17 

There are also a number of services in the community that can be accessed after hours including:

ACT Access Mental Health is a 24-hour mental health emergency access and support service.           

Phone: 1800 629 354 or 6205 1065 

1800 RESPECT is the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. 1800 RESPECT provides phone or online support for people experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, sexual assault, domestic or family violence. 

1800 RESPECT is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 

Phone: 1800 737 732 

Lifeline:   13 11 14

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, Crisis Line

(02) 6247 2525

ANU Women’s Department

sa.womens@anu.edu.au

ANU Queer* Department

sa.queer@anu.edu.au