Preventing Unwanted Sexual Attention in our Community

Everyone has the right to participate fully in community life without fear of unwanted sexual attention be it sexual harassment, assault or stalking. With this in mind as the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience) I am determined to do everything I can to make ANU a safe place for students and staff to live, work and learn.

As outlined in the Dean of Students’ annual report (http://www.anu.edu.au/dos/reports.php) in 2014, nine allegations of unwanted sexual attention on and off campus were reported to the Dean of Students. Each of the nine reported cases has been addressed, as is University policy, with an emphasis on ensuring the ongoing safety of students and access to ANU and external support services for the parties involved.

While there is some evidence that the rate of incidents on campus may be lower than that in the broader community, there remains more we can do to improve the situation on our campus. ANU can show real leadership to Australia and the world by coming together as a community to do all we can to address these issues.

I’m pleased to report back to the ANU community some steps we have put in place in this regard. Our proactive approach consists of preventative initiatives, programs, training and support which aim at ensuring a safe campus for all.

In 2014, ANU completed a review of policy and procedures for responding to allegations of sexual assault on campus.  A Staff Protocol for responding to an allegation of recent sexual assault was developed. A response to any allegation of sexual assault is treated with utmost care, and confidentiality is respected at all times. The response includes support being provided to all involved, including access to counselling from our professional student counselling team and external support groups like the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre. All incidents are formally recorded, monitored and reported on.

I would like to applaud the work our student leaders have been doing on this issue. The ANU Student Association ran a ‘Safety on Campus’ campaign in July-October 2014. This campaign made great use of social media with the theme of ‘Our campus: make it safe’ and a range of awareness events including ‘the Pledge’ campaign, which aimed to shift understandings of violence away from a victim-blaming culture, and work to ensure a campus that is safe for all students.

A training program for ANU Division of Student Life staff and student leaders was delivered in July 2014. Speakers included staff from the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, ANU Counselling and Health, and ANU Residential Halls.

In August, I participated with student representatives in a panel on ‘Sex and Consent’ run by the ANU Women’s Department. ‘Great Sex’ workshops were organised by the ANU Students Association, focused on developing a common understanding of what consent means. Four sessions were held in different residences on campus.

In November, Dr Shannon Spriggs (Research Fellow, Griffith University’s Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance) came to ANU and presented the ‘Mentors in Violence Prevention’ train the trainer program.  The aim of the program was to provide staff and students with training to assist in the development of a positive bystander-intervention culture at ANU.

Following the recruitment round of student leaders for 2015, a full day of training was held to prepare student leaders for events that they may be organising and managing during the 2015 academic year. Approximately 380 student leaders attended the day. The training covered responding to unwanted sexual attention and bystander interventions strategies including a presentation from the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre.

The knowledge and experience gained through these activities has been shared with other universities and residential colleges. For example, I took part in a joint presentation with the ANUSA Women’s Officer and the Head of ANU Security on ‘Enhancing Student Safety at ANU’ which was presented at the Campus and Student Security Conference held at the University Melbourne during 2014.

There will be more on the agenda in 2015 as we work to do all we can to ensure this is a safe and respectful community. If you have any suggestions on what we can do to improve safety on campus please contact me.

Professor Richard Baker
pvc.se@anu.edu.au

 

Further Resources:

The ANU Counselling Centre has developed some online resources for students dealing with crisis and trauma – http://counselling.anu.edu.au/online-resources that include: “Responding to Family, Friends and Colleagues Affected By A Traumatic Event”

http://counselling.anu.edu.au/sites/counselling.anu.edu.au/files/Responding%20to%20Family%20etc.pdf

“A Guide to Responding to an Allegation of Sexual Assault” can be found on the ANU website under Student Leadership: http://www.anu.edu.au/students/get-involved/leadership