Message sent to all staff and students Wednesday 23 March 2022.
Content warning: the contents of this message contain references to sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual violence. If this content causes you distress or impacts your wellbeing, please contact:
- student support services on the Health, safety & wellbeing webpage
- staff support services via the Employee Assistance Program
Additional information and resources available to our community:
- Urgent Support Services
- Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Disclosure, Reporting and Support including how to report, disclose or support someone who discloses to you.
Today, Universities Australia has released the 2021 National Student Safety Survey.
The survey provides an overview of the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment across the university sector, including in our own community.
I want to thank the more than 1,600 ANU students who participated in the survey and applaud you for coming forward and sharing your experiences with us.
For many years, I have been leading the call for this data so that we can fully understand the scale of the challenge we face and to best target our actions.
The survey results show that, like the rest of society, our campus is still grappling with the scourge of sexual violence.
Today's results are painful and deeply disappointing for our community. And my thoughts are with victim-survivors, their loved ones and the dedicated professionals and advocates who work so hard to support them.
The survey results indicate, within a university context, that:
- A higher percentage of ANU students experienced sexual harassment since starting university and in the last 12 months than the national average.
- A higher percentage of ANU students experienced sexual assault since starting university and in the last 12 months than the national average.
- A higher percentage of the most impactful incidents at ANU occur at student accommodation and residences than the national average.
- A higher percentage of ANU students make formal complaints and seek support from the university when sexually harassed than the national average.
- A higher percentage of ANU students know where to go make a complaint or seek support for sexual assault than the national average.
- A higher percentage of ANU students know where to go make a complaint or seek support for sexual harassment than the national average.
Simply put, these results show a rate of sexual assault and sexual harassment that is unacceptable.
Every member of our community deserves to feel safe and respected. This is what I committed to when I became Vice-Chancellor. And these results strengthen my resolve to make our community safer.
We are a university that is stepping up, not sweeping this challenge aside.
This is why my leadership team and I announced the ANU Student Safety and Wellbeing Plan on Monday.
Our new plan will deliver significant new investments for staffing in ANU residences, recruiting new case managers, making consent training a mandatory part of students' enrolment and further embedding a zero-tolerance approach in ANU culture, including policies, language, training and disciplinary procedures. We commit to investing at least $3.3 million every year.
Our plan is based on best-practice advice and evidence from leading experts. It is plan that includes buy-in from our student leaders. It is a plan that builds on and bolsters five years of continuous work. It is also a plan that will deliver.
We intend to publish more detailed results in due course, following discussions within the university sector about releasing them in a way that ensures victim-survivors are protected, and participants' privacy is respected.
You can view our results and more about our work and plans at https://www.anu.edu.au/about/strategic-planning/sexual-violence-prevention-and-response
Today's results will be distressing for many of us, not least victim-survivors and advocates. Behind every number is a person; people who have experienced something they should never have to go through.
I want to thank all of you for your bravery, for your leadership and for your tireless work. We are committed to learning from you. We are committed to working with you. We are on your side.
ANU will continue to listen to our students and take advice from experts to create a best-practice response to an issue that sadly afflicts our society.
By working together, I know we can make positive change.
This is a difficult day for many in our community. Please be kind to each other and seek support if you need it.
Professor Brian P. Schmidt AC FAA FRS
Vice-Chancellor & President