ANU Response to Australian Human Rights Commission survey

26 August 2017

In August the Australian Human Rights Commission survey released the largest ever report into sexual assault and harassment at universities.

ANU is a community that values respectful relationships, and the release of the report has spearheaded a renewed focus on our values as a university.

In responding to the report we have first emphasised that being part of the ANU community means acting and behaving in a way that is consistent with a set of fundamental values.

• We are inclusive, open and respectful, reflecting the diversity of our nation;
• We are committed to integrity and ethical behaviour; and
• We value, enable, reward and celebrate collegiality.

These are the core values that we uphold as members of the ANU community and the price of membership to our community is adherence to them.

One thing that we have made very clear is that sexual harassment, sexist behaviour and sexual assault will never be tolerated on our campus.

The ANU executive and staff, heads of residential halls, ANUSA, PARSA and others are working together to do everything possible to ensure the safety of our students, staff and visitors on campus.

The Human Rights Commission made nine recommendations to universities. At ANU we accept all of them and will fully implement all of them.

The ANU student associations ANUSA and PARSA have also made a series of recommendations to the University. The University accepts the majority of these recommendations. Many of them related to work already in place or commencing at the University. The University will work with our students through the new Steering Committee on the other proposals they have made, including exploring a restorative justice process for the University.

ANU Key Actions

  • We have commissioned Rapid Context to undertake an independent review of all policies and procedures related to sexual assault and harassment. This review will provide the University with a report in September 2017.
  • We have appointed Donelle Wheeler, former diplomat and President of the Australian National Committee for UN Women as an independent chair of our campus-wide steering group for addressing sexism, sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus. Our group has a remit that covers our entire community of students and staff. That group will include students, professional and academic staff, senior leadership, residential college representatives and experts.
  • ANU has long term relationship with the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre and ACT Policing. That relationship has been extended to include a full-time presence of the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre on campus. The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre will have a full-time presence on campus from August 7. Additional counselling has been put in place for staff and students in the meantime to deal with any additional demand as a result of the report.
  • ANU will conduct a full audit its counselling services and provide additional services where needed.
  • ANU will undertake a review of its residential colleges. It will invite affiliated residential colleges to participate in the review. Should any affiliated college opt not to participate, the University will commence review the affiliation of that college with a view to determining if the affiliation will be revoked.
  • ANU piloted a new evidence-based and age appropriate consent training module with all incoming residential students in Semester 1, 2017. We are now working towards having all students complete consent training. So far, more than 2000 have completed the training. 
  • A sister module for staff goes live this week. It trains staff on dealing with disclosures of harassment and consent.
  • The new ANU Strategic Plan for the first time articulates ANU values. The price of membership to our community is adherence to those values. All students and staff joining our community from 2018 will be advised of those values and the expected behavior that is aligned with those values.
  • The University launched a new website last month that is a repository for all information related to sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus. All students from Semester 2, 2017, receive direct communication making them aware of the values of the University and where to access information and support.