Please note: This article contains references to sexual assault and violence, which some students may find distressing.
With the 2021 National Student Safety Survey launching on 6 September, now’s an important time to reflect on the issue of sexual harm and gender-based violence in our community. This is an issue where La Trobe has strived to be a force for positive change for decades, evidenced by the world-class research and policy advocacy conducted by our Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), and the consistent recognition of our achievements in gender equality and health and wellbeing.
Despite our strengths, the 2017 Change the Course Report still identified areas where we could do more to make our campuses and community safer. Since 2017, the University has acted in response to key recommendations made by the Report, and we have made significant progress in the development of our primary prevention and response programs. A list of initiatives implemented at La Trobe can be seen below.
While we have made progress in addressing sexual harm within our community, there is still work to do, particularly to address the underlying causes and drivers of gendered violence. We can all play a part by supporting respectful relationships, challenging unacceptable behaviours, and making our campuses safe places. Please contact Safer Community for support or advice if you witness or experience unacceptable or concerning behaviours, including sexual harm.
La Trobe University actions to address sexual harm and violence
- Partnering with Our Watch on a whole university approach to the prevention of violence against women. Our partnership has culminated in the development of the Educating for Equality framework – now available to all universities in Australia.
- Further growth and development of our Safer Community service, which supports and advises students and staff on sexual assault and sexual harassment and other forms of unacceptable and concerning behaviours. The University will continue to strengthen our response program.
- The establishment of the Respect, Prevention and Culture department within the Division of Student Health and Wellbeing. This unit guides the University in implementing the whole-of-university approach to prevent sexual harm and gender-based violence.
- In-house development of training and education programs such as the AIDED Bystander Program, Respectful Behaviour and Culture LMS Module, Responding to Disclosure of Sexual Harm and a new LGBTIQA+ Ally Program with a focus on the prevention of sexual harm against our LGBTIQA+ communities.
- The launch of the Health and Wellbeing Resource Centre with information and trained Wellbeing Advisors to provide advice and information regarding sexual harm, prevention programs and support services.
- Creation of a campus safety group; the University’s governance committee with oversight of the University’s strategies and initiatives in the prevention and response of sexual harm and gender-based violence.
- Creation of Women’s Safe Spaces in Bundoora and Bendigo.
- Student Leadership Programs including the Respect Champions Program and the Living at La Trobe Residential Assistants training.
- Developing stronger linkages with the Centres Against Sexual Assault services on regional campuses, in addition to having a sexual assault counsellor on our Melbourne campus.
- Ongoing work in training, education and communication for staff and students on various topics including gender inequality, respectful relationships, bystander action, ALLY training, and responding to disclosures of sexual harm.
- Training of Safer Community staff to support student peers in delivering an innovative and evidence-based Canadian program, the Enhanced Access, Acknowledge (ACT) program, to prevent sexual assault.
- Hosting Tomorrow Man workshops for male students and staff which focus on redefining masculinity and supporting men to live healthy lives, as well as appointing a dedicated Men’s Wellbeing Program for our male students.
- The development and review of the second version of the University’s Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Policy.
- Making improvements to a range of safety and security measures on all our campuses.
- Implementation of recommendations from independent reviews of counselling and accommodation services, which are leading to improvements in services and support.
- Developing partnerships and providing strong leadership on gender equality including the SAGE Athena SWAN program, Male Champions of Change and Women’s Health in the North.
Need help now?
If you witness or experience any inappropriate behaviour and you need further support and advice, La Trobe has a variety of safety and security options you can contact depending on your situation, both on and off campus. For a full list of extensive services, have a look at this article.
For support now, consider the following options.
In an Emergency
- Call police or emergency services – (24 hours) Triple Zero ‘000’
- If on-campus then call Campus Security – (24 hours) 03 9479 8888. They need to be aware of the incident to let emergency services on campus if required and can assist until their arrival.
It is a free, confidential* support service you can contact if you experience or witness concerning, threatening, inappropriate or uncomfortable behaviour. This behaviour can occur on-campus and off-campus, such as on public transport or in the home.
Safer Community provides expert advice and information. They also offer you options and referrals to help resolve your concerns to keep you and other safe.
*Refer to Safer Community website for a full privacy and confidentiality statement and limitations.
Northern Centre Against Sexual Assault (for students at Melbourne)
NCASA are specialist counsellors for people who have experienced sexual assault. Call their counselling line on 03 9496 2240.
NCASA can also connect regional students with their closest Centre Against Sexual Assault.
For after-hours help, call 1800 806 292.
1800RESPECT (1800 737 732)
A 24-hour helpline offering support to support impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.