Joint Statement – Respect.Now.Always

Universities Australia has today released the results of the first-ever national survey of university students’ experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

La Trobe University students were encouraged to take part in the survey – 947 did so. The Australian Human Rights Commission national report for all Australian universities can be downloaded here, and La Trobe’s results from our website.

We welcome the reports and their findings. They make for uncomfortable reading, but shed more light on the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment of young people across our community.

We are committed to learning from the national and local survey results and taking action to prevent and appropriately respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus. The report makes a number of recommendations, which we are currently reviewing. Some are already being implemented.

Survey results at La Trobe broadly mirror the situation at other Universities across Australia, as well as what is happening in the broader community.

The report confirms female students are predominantly victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators.  The national survey also shows that students who identified as trans and gender diverse were twice as likely to be sexually harassed.

In two thirds of sexual harassment incidents, respondents reported it took the form of inappropriate staring or leering that intimidated, offensive sexually-suggestive comments or jokes, or intrusive questions about private life or physical appearances.

Reported sexual harassment most commonly took place on public transport to and from university, as well as university grounds, teaching and social spaces.

We are very concerned by the behaviours identified in this survey and that some people wrongly believe it’s OK to behave in this way, be it in a university lecture hall, on public transport, or the local community.

It’s not OK. Sexual assault and sexual harassment shouldn’t happen here at La Trobe University. It shouldn’t happen at all.

As a community, we can all do better in treating each other with the respect and decency we each deserve. We hope this survey is a catalyst for a community conversation on how we should better interact with each other and set higher expectations for ourselves and each other.

This is a challenge we must all address and the University sector can – and will – play its part. At La Trobe we care about every member of our community, and together we will strive to make a difference.

We are committed to ensuring that:

  • La Trobe is a place where everyone knows that sexual harassment and sexual assault is unacceptable;
  • there are clear expectations about appropriate behaviours and our individual and collective rights and responsibilities;
  • access to help is clear and easy to find, and
  • victims of sexual assault and harassment will be supported.

We have made good progress on this, but there is more to do. We can do even more to raise awareness of the respectful behaviours we expect of each other here at La Trobe.

Our Respect.Now.Always. related activities are helping to set out very clearly what we expect of our students and staff. They are a great foundation on which we can continue to build. We welcome suggestions on how we could do more.

Knowing where to get help and where to refer queries is vital. Our service, Speak Up, helps students  locate support in relation to intimidation, harassment, discrimination, all forms of violence (including sexual and physical assault) and other forms of unacceptable behaviour.

If you, or someone you know is in immediate or imminent danger on-campus contact:

  • Police on 000 (0 000 from office phones) then campus security on ext. 2222 or 9479 2222

Discussions around sexual violence can be confronting and trigger a range of emotions, especially for those who have experienced such trauma themselves or know someone who has. If this statement raises concerns and you would like support, we encourage you to contact the support service you’re most comfortable with.

University support services for students

Business Hours (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Speak Up

E: speakup@latrobe.edu.au

Ph: (03) 9479 8988

Counselling Services

Albury Wodonga (02) 6024 9627

Bendigo (03) 5444 7223

City (Collins Street) (03) 9479 2956

Melbourne (Bundoora) (03) 9479 2956

Mildura (03) 5051 4083

Online (03) 9479 2956

Shepparton (03) 5820 8631

Sydney (02) 9397 7600

After Hours (5pm to 9am Monday to Friday; public holidays and weekends)

La Trobe’s Violence Prevention and Support Hotline

Ph: 1300 687 399

University support services for staff

Staff can also contact our confidential Employee Assistance Program.

External support services

Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL)

Ph: 1800 806 292

SafeSteps: Family Violence and Response Centre

Ph: 1800 015 188

For more information about available support if you are experiencing family or domestic violence, please see the University’s Domestic Violence Support Policy and Procedure.

By working together we can all play our part in preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment within our University and the broader community.

Professor John Dewar, Vice-Chancellor

Samantha Barlow, President, Wodonga Student Association

Phoebe Bray, President, Mildura Students Association

Jacob Cripps, President, La Trobe Student Union, Melbourne Campus

Georgia Linton, President, Shepparton Students’ Association

Andrew Mair, President, Bendigo Student Association

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