Review of ANU sexual assault and harassment policies

27 July 2017

ANU has engaged the services of independent research consulting firm, Rapid Context, to undertake a review of the University's procedures, policies, practices, communications and rules around its responses to sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Rapid Context is a research consulting firm with significant subject matter expertise in policy formation to address sexual assault and sexual harassment in organisational contexts.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the review and post-review report will help make sure the University is providing the very best support for survivors of sexual assault and their supporters.

"Undertaking a thorough independent review of our policies and procedures will help us understand if there are any gaps in our current responses and allow us to implement new policies which may improve our current practices and ultimately provide better support for our students," Professor Schmidt said.

"We want to be one hundred percent sure that our policies and processes are clear, easy to access and most importantly are supportive of and sensitive to our students.

"As part of the review Rapid Context will be making contact with a number of ANU students, staff and the wider community to inform their recommendations." 

Rapid Context have experience working with large organisations like the Australian Army and the AFL to develop policies and procedures around issues like sexual assault and harassment.

Their team is based in Canberra and consists of experienced researchers working in applied contexts including Sociologists, Anthropologists, Policy, Health, Education and Gender Specialists.

Their report and recommendations are expected to be delivered to the University mid-September 2017.

The Terms of Reference for the review are below:

  1. How policies and procedures to support students, who are making allegations of sexual assault and/or harassment against staff or students, intersect with policies and procedures to support staff. This review of policies related to staff need to specifically recognise the provisions of ANU's existing Enterprise Agreement.
  2. The review should consider ways to strengthen internal investigation and resolution mechanisms regarding sexual harassment, sexual assault and bullying. Should there, for instance, be support from professionals with specialist expertise and professional practice in the area of gender violence, bullying and harassment?
  3. A review of the following policies to ensure they adequately reflect our zero-tolerance position including: 'Code of Practice for teaching and learning' and the 'Code of conduct for research'. Review of the Code of Conduct for Research' should be undertaken with a view to including a section about creating a safe environment for all research students at ANU.
  4. The review should consider the existing support for survivors and whistle-blowers to ensure this is adequate and has appropriate enforcement mechanisms.
  5. The review should identify matters the University should and should not progress through Student Complaint Resolution Procedures; identifying any deficiencies in how the University now handles matters and suggesting alternatives or initiatives to address those deficiencies.
  6. The review should outline what staff training is required to enable skilled implementation of the University's policies, procedures and rules in this area and explore the options for making this training mandatory, preferably within the existing staff 'Pulse' module suite. This training should encompass the various types of students at ANU, acknowledging the different needs of these cohorts, including HDR candidates.
  7. What can be learnt from other universities and other institutions that provide trauma informed services in Australia and overseas in terms of best practice around issues such as anonymous reporting, consent and bystander intervention training?