Creating a safer place for your peers - the NSSS
Content warning: Please be aware this email contains information about how the survey will proceed and avenues to talk about experiences of sexual violence. This may be upsetting or triggering for some members of our community. I encourage you to access support if you need it, and we have a number of free support services available for our community.
I am writing to you about the National Student Safety Survey (NSSS), which will collect data on the scale and nature of university student experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Please be aware this email contains information about how the survey will proceed and avenues to talk about experiences of sexual violence. This may be upsetting or triggering for some members of our community. I encourage you to access support if you need it, and we have a number of free support services available for our community.
We are aware many in our community had concerns about running this survey while large numbers of students are affected by lockdowns and COVID-19 outbreaks. We raised these concerns with Universities Australia, but they have made the difficult decision to continue ahead as planned to gather this vital information and reflect the nation-wide context of the survey.
There is an important conversation happening around Australia about respectful behaviour. Together, our student community and staff can continue to play a leadership role in shaping and informing this conversation, and we want everyone to be able to participate safely and respectfully.
Since the last survey
In 2017, the Australian Human Rights Commission released Change the Course - a National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities 2017. The report and its recommendations were based on the results of a national survey of students.
We are not proud of what we learned about our university in that report. Our Vice-Chancellor committed ANU not only to address the issues raised in the report, but to continue to review our progress and to actively lead the sector in building a safer community for everyone. A lot of important work has been done to provide more effective support, responses and prevention, but we still have a long way to go. We must do these things properly, involving all members of our community. Changing systems takes time and we continue to work on this.
10,000 ANU students will be invited to participate in the national survey involving 39 Australian universities that will run from Monday 6 September to Sunday 3 October. This is a random sample and equates to about half of our students.
The Social Research Centre (SRC), an independent body, is conducting the survey to help all Australian universities understand the experiences of our students, including previous instances of violence, what is happening on our campuses now and what we need to do to support all students.
This is a chance for you to share your experiences in a way that will help us understand which activities help students and where further action is needed, to make our university a safer and more respectful environment for everyone.
The survey will help build the broader picture of sexual assault and sexual harassment that will inform our actions to stop this unacceptable behaviour on our campuses.
We need to hear about the full range of your collective experiences. This means hearing from people of different ages, sexualities, genders, abilities, cultures, degree pathways, modes of study, and countries of origin. We encourage you to do the survey, regardless of whether you have or haven't experienced inappropriate or illegal behaviour yourself.
You don't need to do the survey, if asked. There are other ways to share your experiences.
Other avenues to talk about your experiences
All students have the right to share their experiences, and we will ensure everyone has the option to do so.
You can reach out to the Respectful Relationships Unit, who provide education and advice about safe and respectful behaviours, taking care of yourself and each other and responding to disclosures.
You can disclose an incident of sexual misconduct using the ANU Sexual Misconduct Disclosure Form.
The SRC is also running a qualitative research project for any student who would like to share more about their experience of sexual harassment, sexual assault or unwanted sexual behaviour. This project is open to all students who have been enrolled in an Australian university during the past five years. No matter your circumstances, views or experiences, your participation is welcomed. All responses are anonymous and confidential. You can take as much time as you need to share your experiences.
I recognise that conversations about sexual assault and sexual harassment are difficult and challenging. If you, or a student you know, need crisis counselling support, please access it here.
I thank you for your continued support to ensure our campus fosters a safe environment for everyone in our community.
Professor Ian Anderson AO
FAFPHM, FASSA, FAAHMS
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student & University Experience)
The Australian National University, Canberra | CRICOS Provider: 00120C | ABN: 52 234 063 906