Creating a safe campus

17 August 2015

I never thought I would be a victim of a crime. I took for granted my relatively smooth and common university experience.

The ANU campus is a sprawling, beautiful place. But a beautiful place also needs to be a safe place. There is ongoing discussion about how to protect and educate students and staff taking place with the aim to create a holistic approach to safety.

ANU Reporter asked three members of the ANU community for their experiences and thoughts about safety on campus and in the Canberra area.

Trigger warning: This article contains information about sexual assault and/or violence that may be triggering to some readers. You can find a list of support services here.


Elise Horspool, ANU undergraduate student

University is already a somewhat stressful experience when things run smoothly, let alone when they don't.

When something horrific and unexpected happens mid-semester, it can be almost impossible to get back on track. I remember each semester, I would have a perfectly timed meltdown either just before exams or when my major essays were due.

However this semester, that meltdown seemed irrelevant. I never thought I would be a victim of a crime. I took for granted my relatively smooth and common university experience.

I'd never needed special considerations, never needed extensions for assignments and I'd never needed to utilise the ANU Counselling Centre.

I am never-endingly grateful for all the support I have received from ANU.

When you are a victim of sexual assault, everything in life suddenly becomes complicated. You aren't just studying for exams or getting up every morning for class; you're going to the police station to make a statement or going to a forensics lab to do digital face imaging.

You're reliving the moment over and over again. Life suddenly becomes just that little bit harder.

Having the full support of ANU has made me so proud to be an ANU student. I feel empowered and that everything is going to be okay.

The ANU Counselling Centre has generously allowed me weekly emergency appointments and, without these, I honestly don't know where I would be now, thanks to the kindness and patience of my counsellor, Dora. The support of the Chancelry, in particular the Pro-vice Chancellor Richard Baker has been enormous and somewhat overwhelming.

I think ANU students need to know that these things can and do happen. They're out of our control. They're unexpected, hurtful and potentially damaging to your future.

But you have a choice to make something positive out of it and embrace the support and facilities that are available. You are not alone at ANU.

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