Criminal justice students collaborate with RMIT’s Safer Community service to change the university experience for the better.
The assignments were a part of the Crime Prevention course, where students develop their understanding of environmental and social crime prevention theory and practice.
RMIT has taken on board a number of students’ proposals suggesting bystander intervention training to promote university-wide respect and prevent sexual assault.
“This assessment gave students the opportunity to act as crime prevention consultants tasked with addressing real-world issues for a genuine client,” she said.
“They can now approach potential employers with experience in responding to a research brief and meeting key deliverables – skills that will be invaluable in many criminal justice and policy agencies.”
Students tackled real-life campus issues like library theft, student homelessness and sexual violence, according to a brief designed by Safer Community and RMIT’s Campus Security and Safety team.
Jordan Fenton, one of the three students whose ideas were implemented by Safer Community, emphasised the important role of staff in improving bystander intervention in cases of sexual assault.
“Staff should be empowered to recognise inappropriate or poor behaviour or attitudes, and they should be comfortable saying something in a constructive way,” she said.
“Long term, this program should be the basis of broader attitudinal changes that can create a more respectful community on and off campus.”
Safer Community also heard criminal justice student Alaska Zoljic’s suggestions to reduce sexual assault on individual, peer and community levels.
Zoljic said it was necessary to keep inclusivity in mind when adopting her proposed bystander intervention programs, student talks and offender-focused educational events.
“It’s important to ensure all implemented strategies are inclusive of all genders and sexual orientations in order to promote equality and inclusion and increase student participation,” she said.
Liston said the project’s success, including showcases at the RMIT Learning and Teaching Conference and the 2016 Safe Cities Conference, has also opened up new research elements for future students.
“I'm excited about the prospect of building on the success of this initiative where another group of Crime Prevention students will again get the opportunity to engage in research that will hopefully have real-world benefits."
Story: Jennifer Park