*Live* Launch of the University sexual assault and sexual harassment report

*Live* Launch of the University sexual assault and sexual harassment report

October 14, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


>>Good morning and welcome to the Australian Human Rights Commission. Before we begin, I’d like to acknowledge
the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and pay my respects to their
elders, past and present. We’re here today to mark the release of the launch of our important report on sexual assault and sexual
harassment in universities. But before we begin, I would like to introduce
our incoming president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Rosalind Croucher, to say a few words of welcome. (audience clapping)>>Thank you Commissioner Kate Jenkins and thank you all for coming to this very important occasion. It’s a rare one for me on
my second day on the job to get an opportunity to front such an important piece of work, and of course it’s always about the work, and this work is a wonderful project. And like Commissioner Jenkins, I would like to pay my
respects to the traditional custodians of this beautiful land, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to
elders past and present and acknowledging any indigenous
guests joining us today. Behind the statistics in this report, which Commissioner Jenkins
will share with you, are many personal stories, the experiences, deep experiences, deep pain, but it also I think reveals
the opportunity for redemption. Interwoven in the report are also key elements of positive responses when people have been
the subject of unwelcome sexual conduct and also sexual assault. Having strong formal
pathways is of course a given and universities and other
public bodies are engaged in much reflection and much action here and this report will continue that. But what I found
interwoven into this report was the importance of support: support from those in
positions of responsibility, support to ensure pathways to the desired response, and fundamentally the
support of those who are in the position of bystanders, friends, peers and observers. This I think is part of
the message of building respectful relationship, of respectful relationships. And there are great parallels here with the
anti-bullying programs in schools with the working relation
to family violence, which I led two inquiries on the subject to the Australian Law Reform Commission. Building respectful relationships is part of the national plans to
reduce violence against women. The building respectful
relationships is also at the core of the work that I’ve just completed in relation to elder abuse where attitudes to older people, the relationships, the
intergenerational relationships, lies at the heart of finding
some of the solutions. Another element I think
from the elder abuse work is that it has a distinct
parallel is in relation to formal reporting processes. It’s the measure of
ensuring that the person who is the heart of the issue remains at the center and
that they don’t get lost in the loop in any response
that is undertaken, both in terms of knowing
what is happening, but also in terms of
ensuring that their dignity as an individual is respected. But for many, whether it’s in the
context of family violence, elder abuse or unwelcome sexual conduct, a formal response is often
not what a person wants. This is not a new revelation, but it is one that must work. So the formal reporting
pathways are essential and perhaps in a way
the easiest to reform. The hardest things though are to get at the
culture that lies behind. I found when I was reading a report, I kept asking what do the women
and men in this survey want and there were echoes for me I think from the family violence work. They want to feel safe. They want to feel respected and they want others to acknowledge the pain of their experience. They want others to support
them in their healing and they want things to
change so others won’t be subjected to what they were, and this means a change in culture. Change in culture is something
that has a long horizon and happens incrementally. Understanding the
difficulties and delicacies of sexual exploration at
a time when young people are spreading their wings, both intellectually and personally, these are difficult journeys and there is so much to learn. Universities are in such
a key position to help and support young people in those journeys and to support them when
the lines are crossed into the unwelcome and
indeed the unlawful zones. Residential colleges are
places, as we saw in the report, where things can go wrong, but they are also places that, acknowledging a duty of care, they are places where
supportive and responsive attitudes and actions in the context of changing student
populations can be built. This is crucial to
embedding cultural change on the front lines. For those of us who are
from an older generation or two from the students who
were surveyed in this report, I’m sure there are echoes of our own experiences as young men and women where we were exposed in ways to inappropriate sexual approaches. In those times, we managed as best we could. We got on with our lives and worked on our resilient strategies. But in my reflection, if I wanted something
different in my own experience, I would say it’s that bystander support. I would want others to step
in and say, “That’s not on,” or “Back off”, or “Let’s go and do something else.” The bystander response that’s
crucial in the anti-bullying manifests itself in older generations in the bystander response
to support people who are being subjected to
unwelcome sexual conduct. And I think that the extent to which bystanders support and intervene and support someone who is
the target of such conduct is a measure of the effectiveness
of that cultural change and it’s fundamentally about
a shift in peer dynamics. It has a long horizon, but that to me is the target of success. The report is both an acknowledgment of the continuing problems
for university students, but it’s also a beginning. It’s a report that has
significant involvement. It is a project of encouragement, support, and input from the
University sector itself: students and university management. It is a beginning. It’s a beginning to heal, to support and to ensure
that students are safe. And where reports of sexual harassment or sexual assault are made, that they are responded to appropriately and lessons are learned to build a caring, respectful culture for future generations. Thank you to the support for the project. Thank you to Commissioner Kate Jenkins and to her team for the work on this very important project. It’s clearly been a huge effort and commitment of all involved. And for all of those who
shared their stories, their experiences with the team, and contributed to the survey, thank you for your candid commitment, your candid sharing and the privilege of being
involved in a process that I hope, I believe will make a difference
for future generations. So now it’s over to you
Commissioner Jenkins to talk about the detail of the report. Thank you. (audience clapping)>>Thank you Rosalind and I look forward to
working on these issues with you as you go forward
with your presidency. So I’m pleased to launch
the Change the Course National Report on Sexual
Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australia’s universities. The report marks a huge milestone. For decades, university students and advocates and survivors of sexual
harassment and sexual assault have argued for change. We’ve all heard stories of behaviors occurring on campus. And today for the first time, we have statistically
significant national data on the prevalence and
nature of this problem at Australia’s universities. The Change the Course report is based on theNational University Student Survey which was conducted last year by the Australian Human Rights Commission. The survey examined
the prevalence, nature, and reporting of sexual
assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities and was completed by more than
30,000 Australian students. Our report also includes
powerful stories and quotes from written submissions we received. We received 1849 submissions, which for the commission
is the most number of submissions we’ve ever received for a single piece of work, which I think reflects the
magnitude of the issue, but also the appetite for change. Many university students, the young people who are
maturing into adulthood, often living away from
home for the first time, seeking new friends and new
experiences at university. University is a formative experience and many of these students will
become Australia’s leaders. So it’s confronting to learn that sexual assault and sexual harassment are a common part of
these students experience in their academic, their social,
and their residential life. Sadly, the impacts of those experiences have devastating impact and it can be life-changing, affecting health, studies,
and future careers. The Change the Course report tells a clear but disturbing story, and that’s a story we want to change. We have known for a long
time that sexual assault and sexual harassment occur far too frequently in Australian workplaces. The findings of our research make it clear that this is also the
case at our universities. So let’s start by looking at the facts. Overall, one in five students
were sexually harassed at Australian University last year. 1.6% of students were sexually assaulted in a university setting in 2015 and 2016. To put this in context, in a lecture theater
containing 100 students, at least one and possibly two students have been sexually
assaulted in the past year, sorry, the past two years, and 21 of those students will have been sexually harassed in the past year. In 2016, women were almost twice as likely as men to have been sexually harassed
in a university setting. The survey found that 32%
of women and 17% of men had been sexually harassed in
university setting in 2016. Women were more than three
times as likely as men to have been sexually assaulted in a university setting in 2015 or 2016. A survey also collected the
first national prevalence data on sexual assault and sexual harassment experienced by trans and
gender diverse students. It found the they were more
likely than either men or women to have been sexually harassed
in a university setting in 2016. We also found that students who identified as bisexual, gay, lesbian, and homosexual reported high
rates of these behaviors than those who identified as heterosexual. A large number of students
who were sexually assaulted and sexually harassed at
university in 2015 or 2016 said the perpetrator was a fellow student. This was something recounted
to us in submissions. We received numerous accounts of women being sexually assaulted by people they described as close
friends who they trusted. The impacts of being assaulted by a friend from university were often severe. In submissions, people described feeling
anxious about being on campus because they’re afraid of
seeing the perpetrator. In some case, the fear was so great that the students dropped out of university altogether. While most perpetrators
were fellow students, we heard of a devastating
breach of trust when students were harassed
by teachers or staff. That was most likely to happen
to postgraduate students. The survey results showed
us that sexual assault and sexual harassment
occurring in varying degrees across all university settings. The most common settings where the most recent incidents of
sexual harassment occurred where public transport
to or from university, campus grounds and teaching spaces. One woman told us in her
submission of ongoing sexual harass which she experienced
from a university lecturer who took the same bus
to campus as she did. Over a period of several months, he made her feel more
and more uncomfortable. One day he put his arm around
her and he kissed her cheek. From then on, she arranged for her sister
to call her every day when she traveled on the bus so she could avoid
talking to the lecturer. A number of submissions
we received reported unwanted physical contact
in the middle of classes. A female student told
us about her classmate exposing his genitals during her lecture. Another woman was groped by a classmate. In relation to sexual assault, the national survey
results found that the most recent incidents most commonly occurred at university or resident social events, residential colleges
or on public transport. We also received a number of submissions from people describing
incidents of sexual assault which occurred on an O-week camp. These camps were organized by
student clubs and societies to introduce first-year
students to university life. A woman told us she was raped
by a senior student leader who was running one of those camps. She later heard that
he had previously raped other female students at these camps and no action had been taken. A large number of
submissions described alcohol as a factor contributing to the experience of sexual harassment and sexual assault. at university social events and within residential colleges. One woman went on a night out
with friends from college. A male friend brought her drinks all night and encouraged her to drink. When she began to feel unwell, he offered to take her back
to her college dorm room. But instead, he took her to his room. She passed out on the bed and woke up to find her friend
sexually assaulting her. Sadly, this was an experience
we heard again and again. We also heard about hazing
and other college traditions and these have been widely
documented in the media. The fact that these
behaviors continue to exist in colleges and that they involve sexual assault and sexual
harassment of students, who in some cases are in their first week or even their first day in college, is deeply concerning. Perhaps most worryingly, there was a perception
that colleges were aware of these behaviors and did
nothing to prevent them. “You had to participate. “There was nothing you could do about it. “The administration knew about
this and they condoned this. “The students had no power whatsoever. “You couldn’t say anything,” one student told us. The majority of students
had little or no knowledge of how to make a formal
report or complaint. We found that only 2% of people
who were sexually harassed and 9% of those who
were sexually assaulted at university made a formal report or complaint to their university. This aligns with the
low rates of reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the broader Australian community. The Commission heard about
the barriers people face to reporting sexual assault
and sexual harassment. One of the most common reasons
for not reporting was that people did not know where
to go or who to report to. So it’s clear that
universities must do more to publicize their reporting processes. We also heard from people
who had to wait weeks to access counseling services or who were denied special consideration when they were unable to study for exams due to the trauma experienced
from sexual assault. A common barrier to reporting
was a feeling of shame or self blame about what had happened. When individuals did report, we heard the person that they told sometimes reinforced those feelings. One woman who reported a
sexual assault to her college was asked about her drinking habits and what she would do in the future to make sure this didn’t happen again. Another woman who experienced
ongoing sexual harassment by a fellow student reported the
behavior to her supervisor, who told her to take it as a compliment. A man who was sexually
assaulted said he did not report to his university because male victims of sexual assault are not taken seriously. A student who was raped by a member of her university sporting club reported her sexual
assault to the university. He breached her confidentiality
by telling the club. As a result, she was ostracized from the
club and lost her friends. These examples make it clear
that attitudinal change and greater awareness is needed, not only among university students, but also universities staff who receive reports of these behaviors. Change the Course confirms
that universities must do more to ensure that everyone has access to a safe University education. On the current enrollment numbers, University students make up 5%
of the Australian population. Given the size of the
University community, taking action to address sexual assault and sexual harassment will not only have a positive impact on universities, but also has the
potential to affect change in the Australian community more broadly where we know sexual assault
and sexual harassment rates are also unacceptable. Our report makes a total
of nine recommendations aimed at better preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment. These recommendations
cover five key areas. The first is leadership and governance. It needs to be a strong
and visible commitment to action from university leaders and better engagement with the students, accompanied by clear and transparent implementation of these recommendations. Secondly, we’re calling on universities to undertake targeted education and campaigns aimed at changing attitudes and behaviors. Third, we urge universities to
improve their responses to sexual assault and sexual harassment, including ensuring that students have access to specialist support. Fourth, the report recommends monitoring and evaluation of the measures taken to ensure that they’re evidence-based and that improvements are made over time. And finally in [INAUDIBLE], we recommended an
independent expert-led review to identify measures to address
the high prevalence rate of sexual assault and sexual
harassment in this setting. I’d like to thank the 39 universities: University of Australia, the
National Union of Students, The Hunting Ground Australia Project, the Australian Human Right Center at the University of New South Wales, who will launch their good practice report on this topic this Thursday, and End Rape on Campus for
their involvement in this work. I’d also like to thank our team at the Australian Human Rights Commission for their hard work and
dedication to this project. Most importantly, I’d like to thank the students
and their advocates who made submissions or completed our surveys. Without your contributions, this report would not have been possible. In particular, to all the survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment who
participated in this work, I want you to know that
your voices have been heard and I commend you for your
bravery in coming forward with these deeply personal accounts. This report is comprehensive
and evidence-based. It provides detailed
information on the scale and the nature of the issue which affects a significant proportion of the Australian community. It’s clear that students
at our universities are experiencing unacceptable rates of sexual assault and sexual harassment. No one can read the stories
without being deeply affected. We must work together to change the course to ensure that sexual
assault and sexual harassment have no place in Australian universities. Students have done their part and universities now owe them swift action to address these issues. It cannot wait. (audience clapping)
Thank you. I’d like to now introduce and call on the President and Vice
Chancellor of Monash University and the Chair of Universities Australia, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, to respond on behalf of the
higher education sector. (audience clapping)>>President Croucher,
Commissioner Jenkins, President Johnston, let me also begin by
acknowledging that we meet here on the lands of the Gadigal
people of the Eora Nation and pay my respects to their
elders, past and present. Today I speak on behalf of university leaders across Australia. We began the Respect.
Now. Always. Campaign over a year ago to respond to calls to
more actively combat sexual assault and sexual
harassment in universities and to build a safer and more
respectful community at large. At our request, the Australian Human Rights Commission surveyed our students so that we could better
understand what we needed to do. Thousands of students, over 30,000 students answered, and I want to thank all
of them for responding. You shared your experiences, some of you shared stories of significant personal trauma and pain. So before I say anything else today, I want to speak directly to the survivors of sexual assault in student communities. To each of you I say this: We are sorry that this happened to you. Sexual assault is a crime. The person who sexually assaulted you had no right to do what they did. It is not your fault. But through your stories, you call on us and on every fellow
student and member of staff to do more to prevent others
from ever experiencing the damage and the shattering
of confidence and trust that’s inflicted by the
person who assaulted you. We cannot take away the pain
you have felt or that you feel, but we can acknowledge it and we can respond to that
pain with compassion and care. It has taken real courage
to tell your stories and we thank you for telling
us what has happened to you. We are listening and we will act. We are determined to
lead further change in our University student
communities and in our society. We want to work with
our students and staff to demand respectful
and responsible behavior in university communities
and in the wider society. We want universities to be places that work actively and strongly to prevent sexual assault
and sexual harassment and each of us has a role in this. Students, staff, and university leaders
together are crucial to preventing sexual assault
and sexual harassment. We also urge all in our community to report criminal or
unacceptable behavior. By making reporting more likely, by reporting more, we will ensure that these
behaviors are less likely. Our universities must be
places of safety and respect. This report released by the Australian Human
Rights Commission today demands our careful attention. Leaders from all 39 universities asked the commission to
gather this information from our students
because we wanted to know what is happening to them on our campuses and beyond them so we could act informed by evidence. We are making public, not
only the national results, but also our individual university data from this survey today. We ask that the findings of all reports be used sensitively in
a way that is mindful of the impact of this
information on survivors. We pledge to share these reports with our university communities because this is our
guide to further action. So around Australia today, University leaders are meeting
with students and staff on every campus that are
meeting with students and staff to discuss the information
from these surveys with them. We will of course analyze this report in greater depth in coming days and weeks, but we already know this, that much more is needed to be done. Over the past year, while the Commission was
undertaking this research, universities have had conversations with survivors, with students, with sexual violence prevention
experts and counselors. And today, we, 39 universities, commit to a 10-point action plan to respond strongly and
swiftly to these findings. This 10-point action plan is
a set of major initiatives that our 39 universities together, through our peak body
Universities Australia will undertake and fund as part of the Respect. Now. Always. campaign. The first of these major commitments was announced last week. It’s a new interim around-the-clock specialist support line for
student victims and survivors. We know that for some, today will be very difficult
as they recall past trauma. If any student watching today needs help or support, the specialist trauma
counselors who staff this line can be reached on 1-800 572-224. That’s 1-800 572-224. We also commit to lead a new important prevention initiative. Research by Our Watch shows
that more needs to be done towards embed respectful
relationships education at primary and secondary school level. We will build on those
efforts at a university level. We will develop a respectful
relationships program specifically tailored
for university students. It will be one that is best practice because it is evidence-based. It will build on existing initiatives already in place at a
number of universities. First-respond-to training
will also be made available more broadly across our universities to equip more staff and students with the skills to respond appropriately when a survivor discloses. New first-of-their-kind training modules are being designed for
University leadership and staff in awareness and prevention of sexual assault and sexual harassment and a new specialist training module for university counselors
will enhance and extend the skills of our mental health clinicians to provide support for people affected by sexual harassment
and sexual assault. We’ve also begun work on developing a set of best practice University
policy guidelines for reporting and dealing with misconduct. They will help to inform the review and development of sexual assault and sexual harassment
guidelines across our sector. We are also working with our colleagues at the National Tertiary Education Union and the Council of Australian
Postgraduate Associations to develop principles on interactions between supervisors and
postgraduate research students. This 10-point action plan heralds an important
set of major initiatives to which we have committed, but these are the University
sector-wide initiatives. Today on campuses across Australia, University leaders are briefing
their students and staff on the results of the survey. They are working with them on new and renewed local initiatives to prevent sexual assault
and sexual harassment. As they do, I want to pay tribute
to every single person who has helped inspire
and create improvements for the better over the past decade, and what I know will be the
great efforts for the future. to defeat sexual assault
and sexual harassment, University leaders from
right across the country stand united with their
students and staff today, and reflecting that National Union Of Students
President Sophie Johnston, Sex Discrimination
Commissioner Kate Jenkins and I are here as one today
in our shared resolve. Let me be clear. Sexual assault is a crime and sexual harassment is never okay. We are united and we stand united in our determination to prevent them. (audience clapping)>>Thank you, Margaret. I’d now like to invite up to
the podium Sophie Johnston who is the President of the
National Union Of Students to provide her comments on the report. Thank you. (audience clapping)>>Thank you, Kate. As President of the
National Union Of Students and a survivor of sexual assault, I feel the immense
responsibility to represent the voices of so many
students and survivors in a conversation that
is terribly overdue. I wanna recognize all of
the victims and survivors who have never been afforded justice, those who have suffered
in isolation because of our failures to have an
open and honest conversation. For 30 years, student unions and women’s offices have been fighting for recognition of the issue and the solutions in
changing this culture. In 2015, the NUS talk about its survey brought to life the seriousness
and depth of this issue. And today on a much larger scale, the severity of gendered
violence has once again been confirmed to us. We have no other choice
but to face this head on. For too long, victims have been
deterred from speaking out because of vague reporting
systems and a failure to educate our communities on consent. We have failed to provide victims with the support they deserve, and in doing so, we have silenced so many individuals and denied them recognition
of their trauma. It is much easier to focus on the successes of an institution rather than its failures. However, it is honorable to
acknowledge that we have failed, but that you refused to
continue to fail on this issue, and that will be one of the biggest challenges facing universities today. One of the biggest barriers
in combating this culture is the difficulty in
starting the conversation. It is never easy to talk about sexual assault or gendered violence and it’s harder to talk about rape when it’s happening in our own institutions. This is why before 2016, Australian universities
generally didn’t have standalone policies on sexual violence. We deterred so many people
from speaking out because we’re terrified of a
conversation that could not be controlled or curated, or worse, because we pretended it was a problem affecting someone else and not us. Gendered violence and
sexual assault have been an unspoken experience in
our society for many years. It is not just a university problem, a college problem, or
an individual problem. This is a cultural battle
being faced everywhere. We need to recognize how the
integrated and very diverse communities within our universities
do create an environment where these behaviors and
attitudes can easily manifest. The fact that so many victims
within the first few years of study speaks to a power
dynamic and peer pressure that could have been
prevented through education. It broke my heart when I read this report, not because I expected the
results to be any less severe, but because after decades of silence, to finally see the raw
data and to hear the trauma of so many individuals is
incredibly confronting, and it will be confronting
for universities to address these findings. As universities analyze their
own campus-specific data, it is crucial they do so,
accepting their vulnerability. Vice Chancellors need
to remember that while this is a difficult conversation to have, this process has been far
more traumatic and confronting for the countless individuals,
particularly women, who have had no choice but to live with the trauma of sexual violence. Students will not accept
a race to the bottom, as universities, sorry, and it will not accept
hearing universities congratulating themselves on being slightly below their national averages. Every single rape and
sexual assault is a tragedy. There is no celebration or
congratulations to be had. There is nothing to revel
in and having a few less sexual assaults than in
the university next door. Every university has an equal
responsibility to tackle this. I was reflecting on this last night, and what I said when I was elected into this position as President representing over 1 million
students across Australia, it is an immense responsibility
and privilege for me to be standing here and speaking on behalf of so many students and survivors. I will never take for
granted that responsibility and the obligation I have
to be candid and honest about the failings that
I see in front of me. I urge universities to
embrace the recommendations made by the Human Rights Commission and subsequent recommendations
that will be made by the Australian Human Rights Center. We need best practice report structures so that victors no
longer remains silenced. We need standalone help
services that provide victims with immediate support and advice. But we also have a responsibility
to educate our community, to take control of this crisis, and to prevent further victims from going through this awful experience. It is shocking to see
that 30% of those who experienced sexual assault didn’t report because they felt that
it wasn’t bad enough. We’re told that sexual
violence is a stranger who jumps out of the
bushes and attacks you, not your classmate or a supposed friend. No victim should ever feel they do not deserve justice or support. If you are someone out there who has been sexually assaulted, there is no scale on this violence and you deserve to feel
loved and supported. Universities see themselves as frontiers of new ideas and progress in this country. This survey is an opportunity to be an example to societal institutions, to acknowledge past failures, and to finally take action. NUS will be fearless and brave in calling out universities who fail, but we are here to work hand-in-hand if you want to change
the culture together. I urge universities to
ensure students and survivors are at the forefront of the
responses going forward. Today is the beginning
of a very long road. But I hope the release of this report will truly lead us to combat this culture, not just within universities, but across the nation. Thank you. (audience clapping)>>Thank you, [INAUDIBLE] now. Thank you, Sophie. That was fantastic eloquent
way to describe where we’re at, and I acknowledge your
personal experience as well. Now I’ll take this
opportunity to invite Margaret back to the front with us. The three of us here are
now open to take questions. So the journalist asking the question would indicate who you want
to answer the question. That would assist. Thank you. Or not (chuckles).>>Male Journalist: For any in the panel. Can you put the data
around this reporting to context of [INAUDIBLE] by doing
that sort of age simulator? Do you think that would sort of paint a picture of how
this would fit [INAUDIBLE]?>>That’s a great question. The reality is we don’t
have comparable data, so the comparisons or the research in Australia on these topics include the Australian Human Rights Commission sexual harassment prevalence survey, which looks at the experience. It covers a five-year period, so that tells us that 25%
of women and 16% of men have experienced sexual
harassment in the workplace in the last five years. The personal safety survey run by the ABS is the one that looks at the
experience of sexual assault. Again, it’s hard to get
a comparable number, but the observation in
that survey is that, particularly young people, that age bracket of 18 to 24, in our community experienced, both men and women, a much higher rate of sexual assault. So in terms of the
answer to that question, there’s actually not a clear answer. But my response is this
report tells us that it is a concerning rate and that actually it might be comparable
to the broader community, but that is also an
incredibly concerning rate. Yes.>>[Female Journalist] Hi. [INAUDIBLE] maybe immediately without [INAUDIBLE] the broader
changes needed in society and would that indicate that what you’ve done in school, never before, (man coughing)
[INAUDIBLE] university so they have a pretty good [INAUDIBLE] understanding that was [INAUDIBLE] or not [INAUDIBLE]?>>Yeah, so, essentially (sighs) this
problem starts very early on, from primary school
throughout high school, where the sexual education
that we actually received doesn’t go into consent
training, and gendered violence, and understanding respectful relationships and those sorts of things. So one of the things that
the federal government needs to take action on
is actually ensuring that younger Australians are actually receiving this training very early on, but again, universities also have a
responsibility to uphold it. Like I said, universities have
a very integrated community, an easy environment for
these issues to manifest. So they do have a responsibility to continue that consent training, but yeah I do believe that
we really need to start this education early on.>>Great. [INAUDIBLE] that, and there, and then there.>>Male Journalist: To all of you, does the university have a
responsibility to warn parents (background noise drowns out other sounds) [INAUDIBLE]?>>I’ll start with that. Look, I think this report will raise concern for parents as well as students. I think that you would
want to ask questions, but my view is we now have this report. We have a commitment and
an interest for change, so it is a reason to think
that things might get better. I would add to that that
we know from this report that a lot of students do not
experience these behaviors, so it is not every person’s experience.>>It is unacceptable that
those experiences happened to any student in any setting. When we talk about residential colleges, of course there are
residential colleges that are not in the control of the University. There are residential
halls that are in control of the University and of course there are outside private providers. Certainly with the residential colleges, we have been talking to the
Union of College Associations and they are expressing great interest
in working with us in the universities and
with Universities Australia about implementing the sorts of programs that will improve prevention and we have extended our hand to say to all those areas where we have no control over the place where the students stays, that we are happy to talk with
people and to provide them with our access to the
sort of expertise we have. Our intention is that we should provide a safe and respectful place for students no matter where they live and so we are willing to work as cooperatively as we can with residential colleges
about better prevention.>>[INAUDIBLE], no. Okay. I’ll just go red jacket,
and then over there, and then Nina.>>[Female Journalist]
Question for Professor Gardner. [INAUDIBLE] guys [INAUDIBLE] thing particularly well received by some [INAUDIBLE] on campus who run their representatives [INAUDIBLE] to what was said this morning by saying that university [INAUDIBLE] thing [INAUDIBLE] and now taking credit
for the work of survivors [INAUDIBLE] devastated for someone who’s [INAUDIBLE] to see these things and [INAUDIBLE] credit for their work. that today, universities continue to
refuse to accept responsibility for their [INAUDIBLE]. How do you respond to that?>>I would reiterate what I said. We are very sorry for what
has happened to people who are victims or
survivors of sexual assault. It is unacceptable. We are committed to taking action to ensure that we can better prevent sexual assault and sexual
harassment on our campuses and that we can provide better support to students who may have been a victim or survivor of sexual assault or sexual harassment, and that is our commitment today. That is a commitment
from all 39 universities. There are things that have happened that are not acceptable, and we recognize that. We commissioned this work and we have looked and talked with people in order to find in raw data what we need to do to act effectively. Our commitment here today is that we have been listening
to what has been said. We are prepared to act and we have a 10-point action
plan to begin that action and to begin that conversation with students and staff
across our campuses.>>Yeah.>>[Female Journalist]
How did this [INAUDIBLE] behind this sexual harassment? What’s the [INAUDIBLE]through [INAUDIBLE] definition [INAUDIBLE]?>>So we use the definition
of sexual harassment in the Sex Discrimination Act, so sexual harassment is unwelcome
conduct of a sexual nature where the person receiving the conduct would reasonably be offended, humiliated, or intimidated. The way we ask the
question to students though is when you give that technical question, students and actually respondents, now broader work on sexual harassment don’t think immediately what
those behaviors would be. So in the survey we just
grabbed 14 different behaviors that would constitute unwelcome
conduct of a sexual nature and that included physical touching, and it included comments, it included innuendo and
different sort of behaviors. So the questions really
asked about the behaviors. Okay, Nina.>>Nina: I’ve got a question about perpetrators and methods and [INAUDIBLE] recent details
that [INAUDIBLE] information [INAUDIBLE] what 39 universities [INAUDIBLE] around [INAUDIBLE]. This conduct [INAUDIBLE] on
[INAUDIBLE] these assumptions. I noted today that I didn’t have [INAUDIBLE] though some specifically commented about whether or not it’s gonna
be just [INAUDIBLE] reforms or how [INAUDIBLE] dealt with. So I guess I’m gonna ask
this question as a survivor but on behalf of other survivors as well. [INAUDIBLE] start [INAUDIBLE] talked
about in this conversation and are we [INAUDIBLE] changes for [INAUDIBLE] dealt with [INAUDIBLE]?>>Yeah. So can I just add, if I didn’t use the word perpetrator, I definitely was talking about them. But the report does have a
whole chapter on perpetrators and it was really clear about, both in the data and in the submissions, that students are really
concerned that perpetrators are not held to account. So why don’t I have that over to Margaret.>>Yes the call for greater reporting is both a call for greater reporting so we are able to take
action against perpetrators because we need reports for that, enable an action. But one of the actions in the action plan is actually the best
practice policy guidelines which are actually going to how misconduct processes and policies are actually shaped in universities, and so that is one of the commitments of Universities Australia and that work has begun and that has begun a conversation with the universities about the misconduct processes they have and how they might be made more effective. So that is definitely a commitment and one I made in the speech.>>Yes.>>[Female Journalist] Just
[INAUDIBLE] on the question about behavioral questions in the survey. There’s a wealth of evidence showing that the way to catch the
[INAUDIBLE] accurate figures on sexual assault is to
ask behavioral questions, so getting into specific examples of behaviors that constitute
sexual assault rather than just asking people having
[INAUDIBLE] sexual assault. So this was done for sexual
harassment in a survey but not for sexual assault. If you get the comment on
why behavioral questions are widely used for sexual assault and if this is widely likely to produce [INAUDIBLE]?>>Yes, thank you. So that question relates to the fact that the sexual assault sections of this survey ask for people to disclose if they had experienced sexual assault
and then went on to explored the settings. The reason we had asked the
question in that way was that the advice we received at that time was that it might be more harmful to ask the same detailed questions of survivors of sexual assault. This we have obviously a long history of doing surveys in sexual harassment. But a survey of this
magnitude covering both areas have not been conducted before. So we have done the survey. The survey showed significant
experiences of sexual assault. We also asked for an
independent person to review to make sure that our process
and methodology was effective and it didn’t result in
under or over reporting and the review showed us that, particularly for women, the survey results were accurate. That being said, we would always look
forward to assess whether we could do this in a more effective way and we have absolutely most
definitely heard students raise a concern that
that might not have been the best way to do the survey. Thank you.>>[Female Journalist]
[INAUDIBLE] questions about [INAUDIBLE] but we often hear [INAUDIBLE] great culture. University students
(phone ringing) [INAUDIBLE]. Do you think these results support the theories that there’s a great culture [INAUDIBLE] or do you think that they
might help [INAUDIBLE]?>>So I’ll start with that. This report is, the value that is the really minute and detailed and
factual nature of the results. So the report does get a much better sense of what are the factors at play and we don’t use terminology about culture in that way. But the survey showed us that there a number of things that were present that were pretty consistent in some of the situations that arose. These sorts of things
that were present were concerning attitudes about
gender and sex held by people in the university population and potentially across
the broader community. There was presence of alcohol
in a number of situations involving sexual harassment
and sexual assault. There was perpetrator power, So, not simply just lecturers, but actually older
students taking advantage or residential advisors in colleges, so older students in positions of power or the more junior students. And the last factor that
was present was proximity, so the idea that if you’re at a party or near a bedroom in
a residential college, there’s an ability to isolate students in that situation. So those were the factors
that our report told us were present and they
are some of the factors that we’ve particularly
pointed residential colleges to look at more closely.>>Yeah I think that the
severity of the problem really really comes out in this report. You can’t dispel the
seriousness of this issue. I think it’s been made pretty clear. But what’s important or
another important factor that’s come out is these
attitudes that Kate mentioned about how for example, women are perceived and how looks and different gender makes turn the blame towards the victim and away from the perpetrator so
that the victim is seen as asking for it, all these terrible cultural attitudes that really brought to life in this survey, but hopefully can be be combated. (people chattering) (Professor Gardner mumbling)>>Yeah, okay. Jenna.>>Jenna: This is [INAUDIBLE]. So we know that one of
the problems [INAUDIBLE] is making sure there’s a conviction and the fact that sexual assault received can actually make real decisions. Will universities consider
withdrawal of conferred degrees [INAUDIBLE] conviction could happen after graduation?>>That is an issue that to the best of my knowledge hasn’t been fully debated across the
University community. Universities, as you know, have different regulations and statutes about conferring of degrees. I think that raising that issue is one that we will have to consider as we look at this review of guidelines in relation to misconduct.>>Male Journalist: I have a
question for Professor Gardner. You mentioned the need for this special services at universities. I note that as of this moment, [INAUDIBLE] so many [INAUDIBLE] have specific phone lines for
assault survivors to call. So what’s the timeline for
implementing special services and why haven’t they been implemented yet?>>So yes universities
obviously have different levels of support available in
part because they have different levels of
resource available to them. The special support line
that has been run through Universities Australia is
available to all students and that is available now. That number I quoted, 1-800 572-224, that is available. That is funded, that is in place. Universities as they are responding to the recommendations from the Human Rights Commission in this report and as the work flows out in terms of the 10-point action plan that Universities Australia has put in place we’ll be looking at the
nature of these services and what they provide in the future.>>[Female Journalist] I
want to turn the attention to this national survey. So [INAUDIBLE] be about domestic
students were more likely [INAUDIBLE] than international students were sexually harassed. That means that [INAUDIBLE] activist groups have been saying for years. So I’d like to ask what efforts were made to make sure that international students felt that their thoughts were
welcomed in this research and also that the language barriers [INAUDIBLE] preventing that
thought coming forward [INAUDIBLE]?>>Yes, thank you. So when we conducted the survey, we use the sample methodology. So more than 30,000 students responded. In doing that, we made sure that there was a representation on four criteria. One of them was whether they were domestic or international students, which is why you have that data. The others were between men and women, continuing or commencing students, and postgrad and graduate. So when we conducted the survey, and to make sure we had statistically useful information, we made sure that we did
have a representative. So in terms of the statistics,
the data is reliable. We know that they were a significant number of
students who responded so we can use that information. If we didn’t get a sufficient response, we couldn’t have provided that data. In terms of what the findings were, so I think some of the
findings in the report are perhaps not what was expected. We’ve had conversations. In some ways it’s very
much what we expected knowing the broader Australian community. But the international students, while it did identify that
it was a slightly lower rate, it was still concerning that it happens. Our reporting systems did indicate that international students
can have more difficulty accessing the reporting systems which might reflect that greater difficulty in
getting into the system. Yeah.>>[Female Journalist] So
was the survey [INAUDIBLE]?>>No, the survey wasn’t
available in different languages. Yeah.>>Moderator: We have
time for one question.>>Male Journalist: Mrs. Gardner, do universities have a clear idea about where their duty
of care of experience and where it ends with
respect to this nature?>>So universities have, at their core, an interest in the safety and
security of their students. Obviously we have greater control over the settings that are university settings. But we also have an interest
in supporting those students. We want those students to have the great education that they want. So if they are sexually
assaulted outside of campus in a setting over which we have no control or sexually harassed somewhere that is not related to the University, we still have an interest
in supporting those students because we want them to be able to have that great educational experience. So while we can’t control what
happens in settings outside the things that are university settings, we actually have a deep
duty of care to support our students so that
they are able to access the sort of educational experience that we really wish them to have. And beyond that, we have a responsibility
that we educate our students so that when they go out into the world, that they are taking with
them the sort of values about respectful and
responsible relationships that make a difference to
the community at large. So yes there are things we can control, but our interest in
education is a broad interest and it means that it
means support for students to have that great education experience. You want those students to leave and to have look back and said they were the golden years, and that’s our responsibility. And then you want them to
go forth and take the values that you think are most
important for the society and to take them out
and to make a difference in the wider society.>>Thank you very much for attending today and I’ll invite you to
join us for morning tea. Thank you. (audience clapping) (people chattering)