I am writing to you about the National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) and the leadership role ANU is playing by participating in the pilot survey. There is an important national conversation happening at the moment about sexual misconduct, sexual violence and disrespectful behaviour. We want to work together to ensure our community engages in a respectful and informed conversation and shows leadership in shaping this national conversation in regards to student safety. Sexual violence in all its forms, including harassment and assault, is a societal scourge and has no place on this campus, or on any campus - everyone has the right and the expectation that they will be safe in their place of work, recreation and study.
Universities Australia are running the NSSS so that we, as a sector, can understand what is happening on our campuses, and better understand what we need to foster environments that support all students.
A cohort of 1,000 ANU students will be invited to participate in a pilot survey, which will run from Monday 22 March to Sunday 18 April; and then 10,000 ANU students will be invited to complete the national survey in September. This is a random sample of our student community, which means some of you will be invited to complete the pilot, or the national survey, or potentially, neither.
We have committed ANU to both the pilot and national survey. Some of you might ask why we are participating in the pilot survey, particularly as it may cause distress for some members of our community. I acknowledge this will be difficult, particularly among the national conversation at the moment, but the national survey needs to ask the right questions - and the trial is a valuable way of doing this. If we don't get the pilot right, the national survey won't work and that means information about experiences, your experiences, won't be heard. And we need to make sure that all experiences are heard, experiences that are representative of our community and its diversity of degree paths, age, life experiences, gender, sexuality, culture, country of origin just to name a few and we need to make sure we hear the intersectional experience of the diversity in our community.
If you're invited to participate in this survey we encourage you to do so. Sexual misconduct of any kind is a whole of community issue that needs a whole of community response.
In 2017, the Change the Course Report released by the Australian Human Rights Commission was distressing to read. For the first time, our university, your university, had a light shone on a side of campus which we are not proud of. For me, it was distressing that every number represented a story or lived experience of someone from our community. I committed ANU to not only address the issues raised in the report, but to continue to review our progress, and to actively lead the sector in responding to student safety.
Here at ANU, we continue to work every day to combat sexual violence and stop these unacceptable behaviours - not just in our community but across society more widely. We have instituted the sexual violence prevention strategy, updated or created university policies, increased and developed new education and training programs.
I am very proud of what we have achieved but know there is still much more we need to do. Our continued work to address and respond to sexual violence needs to be defined by your experiences and your needs.
You can read more about the pilot and National Survey on our website. More information will be made available on this page next week, when the pilot survey is live.
If you, or a student you know, needs crisis counselling support, here are support services available to you. Please reach out for support if you need it.
This is our opportunity to shape the national conversation around sexual violence and understand the circumstance as well as continue in the vast and important we have already undertaken to make long-lasting change to stop these unacceptable behaviours. I know it will be difficult and challenging, but the result will be a campus that is safe and respectful of everyone.
Professor Ian Anderson AO
FAFPHM, FASSA, FAAHMS
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student & University Experience)
Chancelry Building 10
The Australian National University
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