Background: NSS Survey 2021

La Trobe University has an ongoing commitment to preventing sexual harm (sexual harassment and sexual assault) experienced by our students, as well as supporting and empowering survivors of sexual harm.

Following the release of the 2017 Human Rights Commission’s ‘Change the Course’ report, La Trobe University accepted and implemented all of the recommendations of the report and has instigated, and is continuing to implement, wide-ranging measures to address all forms of sexual harm, including around prevention, response, reporting and support.

Safer Community, was launched in 2017 and provides a free, confidential support service for students who experience concerning, threatening, inappropriate or uncomfortable behaviour. Safer Community is a single point of referral and contact, reducing the complexity for students and staff experiencing or reporting concerning behaviour. Our service is staffed by specialist experts who ensure students receive the support they need and undertake investigations of allegations sensitively and through a trauma-informed, victim-centred approach.

Most recently, La Trobe has invested an additional $2.3 million in staffing and resources to support student wellbeing, deliver training and prevention programs and undertake specialist investigations of alleged cases of sexual harm, discrimination and bullying.

Significant enhancements to campus safety and security have also been implemented and we will continue to work with partner organisations including Public Transport Victoria and other community organisations on continuous improvement in this area.

Our whole of University approach includes initiatives in education, policy and governance, awareness and outreach, communication campaigns, the creation of the Health and Wellbeing Centre, external engagement and partnerships and improvements in our response and support services.

Initiatives around sexual harm prevention and response at La Trobe include the following:

University-level strategies

  • Partnering with Our Watch on a whole of 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.
  • La Trobe’s Campus Safety Group meets quarterly and is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor.
  • A detailed security review of all campuses occurred in 2019 resulting in safety and security upgrades and new action plans.
  • 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.
  • The development and review of the second version of the University’s Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Policy.

Services for students and staff

  • Additional $2.3 million in staffing and resources to support student wellbeing, deliver training and prevention programs and undertake specialist investigations of alleged cases of sexual harm, discrimination and bullying.
  • 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.
  • The launch of the Health and Wellbeing Centre with information and trained Wellbeing Advisors to provide advice and information regarding sexual harm, prevention programs and support services.
  • 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.
  • LGBTIQA+ Information and Support Services: Both staff and students can access specific LGBTIQA+ supports including counselling, groups and spaces. La Trobe University has specific programs to support LGBTIQA+ students and foster a safer community including:
    • The launch of the Finding Pride program for LGBTIQA+ students. This is an 8-week therapy group program for LGBTIQA+ students to connect and share their experiences.
    • La Trobe University leads the way in our sector by having specific Queer Counsellors who can support students with issues regarding their sexuality, gender, coming out (or inviting in) and students who have experienced transphobia, homophobia, biphobia and acephobia.
  • The Women’s Safe Place: Based at both our Bundoora and Bendigo campuses and planned for roll-out across all regional campuses in 2022, is a space where women are protected from physical and emotional harm and where they will find information and support about services available to support them.
  • Dealing with Online Sexual Harm: La Trobe University is a partner in Safe Connections, a program by WESNET (the Women’s Services Network) and Telstra, where we provide female-identifying survivors of family violence, sexual assault and technology-facilitated abuse with free pre-paid smartphones.

Prevention programs

  • Respect at La Trobe training module is available for every student, staff member and visitor.
  • Mandatory consent training for all students living in campus accommodation.
  • Introduction of bystander intervention workshops and communications campaigns.
  • Introduction of perpetrator intervention and training programs.
  • Safety briefings are provided to in-coming students as part of the Living at La Trobe program; additionally, our international students are briefed in partnership with Victoria Police on how to keep safe when moving around the city.
  • LGBTIQA+ Ally Program aimed at preventing discrimination, harm and all forms of violence against students and staff of diverse genders and sexualities. The program also aims to empower allies to be active bystanders and respond to disclosures of harm in a trauma-informed and victim-survivor centred approach.
  • Student Leadership Programs including the Respect Champions Program and the Living at La Trobe Residential Assistants training.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Implementation of research-informed prevention programs such as the evidence-based Enhanced Assess Acknowledge Act Sexual Assault Resistance Program.

Sector-leading research

  • Led by La Trobe University’s Professor Angela Taft, a world-leading expert on gender-based violence, La Trobe undertakes a range of research programs in the field of gender and violence.
  • State Government-funded TramLAB: Improving the Safety of Women and Girls on Public Transport explored what initiatives exist to improve women’s safety on public transport and where barriers to change might be present. A key outcome of this work was the creation of a series of gender-sensitive Toolkits to improve the safety of women and girls on public transport.
  • In 2020, La Trobe University Associate Professor Leesa Hooker led a team from La Trobe together with Monash University to initiate the Women’s Empowerment and Safety Through Education and Action (WEACT) project, a pilot study of the Canadian program called Enhanced Assess Acknowledge Act Sexual Assault Resistance Program (EAAA).

Security and safety measures to support students and staff

  • A 24/7 on-site Security and Safety Operations Centre (2017) manages security across the campus, including active CCTV monitoring and campus patrols, especially in the on-campus residential precinct.
  • All students are encouraged to enter the university’s security number (9479 2222) into their phone at the beginning of the year.
  • La Trobe’s ‘UNI-Safe’ Service is an on-call service available to escort students and staff after dark between buildings, campus car parks and local transport points. All students and staff who study or work at La Trobe University can access the service at the Bundoora, Bendigo, and Albury-Wodonga Campuses.
  • La Trobe provides a free Glider Bus service at the Bundoora campus running day and night during the academic year for students, staff and the wider community. The service has recently been reinstated, after being on hold during covid. Pre-COVID the ‘Night Glider’ service was averaging 1,100 pick-ups per month.

Lighting and pathways - Bundoora campus

  • La Trobe has undertaken a series of on campus Security Lighting Upgrades and CCTV Projects since 2018 on the Bundoora campus as part of the Public Lighting Project. Improvements to lighting, and security have been made to pathways in residential areas, car parks and central campus locations.  Four stages have already been completed, a fifth stage is currently in design and will link with Vic Roads improvements completed in 2021 at the intersection of Plenty Rd and Kingsbury Drive to improve pedestrian safety.
  • The La Trobe Shared Pathway Project will provide 1.9km of pathway to link Plenty Road and Polaris Shopping Centre at the north of the campus with the Sports Park and Darebin Creek to the south.  The project includes lighting and directional and wayfinding signage to provide a safer route for people riding bikes or walking through the campus. The project falls under broader developments of Nangak Tamboree, as part of the University’s Master Plan and is due for completion in June 2022.

Actions in Collaboration with Local and State Government (since 2019)

  • Darebin City Council
    • Darebin City Council received a $184,000 grant to improve public lighting along Main Drive in Bundoora, as part of the State Government’s 2019–20 Public Safety Infrastructure Fund grant round. Darebin will also contribute $58,800 to the project which will upgrade 23 lights in the area and improve lighting on the surrounding precinct.
    • The project was delayed due to COVID, however AusNet have now commenced the upgrade.
  • State Government – Public Transport and Safety 
    • We are continuing to speak with the Victorian Government about improved public transport options for La Trobe.
    • Bus route 301 - Reservoir Express Shuttle (with PTV) which runs approximately every 10 minutes from 7am to 7pm between Reservoir Train Station and campus during semesters
    • Tram stop upgrades on Plenty Road – Public Transport Victoria (PTV) have made some improvements to pedestrian safety at the corner of Kingsbury Drive and Plenty Road. La Trobe will continue to raise safety concerns at tram stops in proximity to the Bundoora campus with PTV.
  • Aiia Maasarwe Scholarship 
    • La Trobe and the State Government announced the co-funding of a perpetual scholarship, the Aiia Maasarwe Scholarship, on 28 October 2019.
    • The scholarship is open for domestic or international students who can demonstrate financial disadvantage and will support either a four-year PhD research program or a three-year undergraduate scholarship. Peruvian researcher Cecilia Bravo Huaynates is the first recipient of the scholarship and is undertaking a PhD analysing new feminist theories aimed at empowering women who have been victims of gender-based violence.