RMIT proudly supports the Respect. Now. Always. campaign because everyone deserves to feel safe and respected.
This morning the Australian Human Rights Commission released the results of its national survey into sexual harassment and sexual assault in higher education.
The figures are confronting for the university sector and give us all a serious reminder that, across Australia, we still have a long way to go to address this issue.
RMIT’s results are broadly similar to the national average, with 19 per cent of the students who completed the survey reporting being sexually harassed at university in 2016.
It’s something we do not and will not tolerate. One incident of sexual harassment or sexual assault is one too many.
You can read RMIT’s full results here (PDF 226KB). Notes on methodology and a link to the national report can be found below
While there’s much we’re already doing to ensure the right care and support is in place for our students and staff if and when they need it, we can, must and will do more.
The Commission and Universities Australia have both put forward recommendations, which RMIT will implement in full. And we’ll do more:
- Survey our students annually in addition to the agreed national survey every three years.
- Make information easier and simpler to access so everyone knows their rights and their reporting options, while respecting the decisions they make.
- Step up our work to ensure our libraries are safe and respectful places.
- Led by our values, cultivate a teaching and learning culture that is genuinely collaborative and inclusive across the University, especially in the area of higher degree by research. This will include additional mandatory training for staff.
We also recognise the role we play in the wider community. That’s why we urge bodies like public transport providers, Victoria Police and government to work with RMIT and other universities to address some of the societal factors like safety of travel to and from campuses and access to support services.
We’ll also continue the work we’re already doing, including: mandatory responding to disclosure training for all staff, offering training in consent for students, increasing the number of counselling staff with specialist expertise and committing to a process of restorative justice.
Thank you to the 579 RMIT students who completed this survey. For those who reported incidents, it takes a lot of courage to share that you have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed and we want everyone to know that the people of RMIT are here to support each other.
We will listen, accept and help people make the choices that work for them. If you need support, contact.
- Safer Community at firstname.lastname@example.org or by ringing (03) 9925 2396.
- Health Safety and Wellbeing at email@example.com or by ringing (03) 9925 0600.
- National University Support Line, which is staffed 24/7, on 1800 572 224.
Together, we are a university that stands by our values and celebrates and respects the diversity and individuality of every single person. It’s a basic right that we should all feel safe, secure and respected when we come to work or study.
A safe environment for all is a cornerstone of our Ready for Life and Work strategy. We can all be part of making that a reality, so please join us at a forum on 14 August to help us shape our next steps. You’ll be sent details soon.
Thank you to everyone who is already working hard to make RMIT the best possible place to work and study. Keep looking out for each other and together we can make a difference.
Martin Bean CBE Vice-Chancellor and President
Professor Belinda Tynan Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Vice-President
Abena Dove President, RMIT University Student Union
Dr Melissa Slee President, National Tertiary Education Union branch
Kirsty Gorter President, Australian Education Union sub-branch
RMIT’s results: an executive summary and actions
- Read the full RMIT report (PDF 226KB)
- Read the full national report.
- Read the methodology (PDF 300KB)
The figures below are percentages based on the 579 RMIT students who took part in the survey.
The Australian Human Rights Commission advises that:
- people who have been sexually assaulted and/or sexually harassed may have been more likely to respond to this survey than those who had not. This may in turn have impacted on the accuracy of the results.
- people who have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed may have chosen not to respond to the survey because they felt it would be too difficult or traumatic. This may also have impacted on the accuracy of the results.
No results are displayed where there were fewer than 30 respondents.
Sexually harassed at university in 2016 (excluding public transport to and from university campus)
19 per cent
Of those incidents, 59 per cent involved inappropriate staring, sexually suggestive comments or intrusive questions.
Sexually assaulted in 2015 and/or 2016 at university
2.1 per cent
Where the most recent sexual harassment at university occurred
On public transport to or from campus – 32 per cent
In teaching spaces – 15 per cent
In a library – 8 per cent
Who was the perpetrator of the most recent sexual harassment at university?
RMIT students – 62 per cent
Students from other universities – 6 per cent
Tutor or lecturer – 6 per cent
Partner or family member – 6 per cent
Made a formal complaint about sexual harassment at university?
Yes – 1 per cent
Knowledge on where to go within university to make a complaint
Knew nothing about this – 31 per cent
Knew very little about this – 33 per cent
Our actions will include:
- Clear, easy-to-find information to be promoted at key moments in student life.
- Building a culture of respect at RMIT through training on respectful personal relationships, consent and bystander intervention.
- Seeking to work with public transport companies, Victoria Police, the government and other universities to promote messaging on respectful behaviour on public transport.
- Training for all staff in responding to disclosure.
- Training for research supervisors on respectful supervisor-candidate interactions and creating an inclusive research culture.
- Placing Respect. Now. Always. posters and messaging in and around RMIT libraries.