Wom*n’s Officers’ Report

Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn

On Tuesday 2 August, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are revealing the results of a large scale national survey into sexual assault in educational communities. The results will be damning.

The 2015 NUS ‘Talk About It’ survey found that 72% of students had experienced sexual harassment on campus and 27% had experienced assault. Sexual assault is a fundamental abuse of a person’s bodily autonomy and can greatly impact a student’s mental health and ability to fully participate in university life. Despite having a very clear duty to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for students, many universities see the issue of sexual assault as a matter solely for the police. Don’t be fooled – this is a lie and a method universities use to avoid their responsibility to support survivors and prevent sexual assault in university communities.

At USyd, and across the uni sector, we see unis dragging out cases so that the survivor and/or perpetrator graduate, failing to remove a perpetrator from a survivor’s class, failing to communicate to the survivor during the investigation or the outcome of the proceeding, and refusing to sanction perpetrators or issuing them with inadequate punishments. Over the past 5 years, 575 complaints into sexual assault and harassment were lodged at universities – only 6 resulted in expulsion. Most perpetrators receive no punishment at all, but if they do it’s entirely insufficient – a note on file, a $55 fine or a written apology.

This has gone on long enough. Students deserve better.

What can I do?
JOIN US at 2pm Wednesday 2 August outside Fisher Library for the ‘Protest Rape on Campus – Break the Silence. End Sexual Violence’ rally and make clear that everyone deserves an education free of sexual violence. FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/214658329058347