VC's Update - Pledge week

18 April 2016

Today I am going to write about a matter of great concern to me, and that is the issue of interpersonal violence, sexual harassment and assault at our university.

This week is Pledge Week, which is a campaign that aims to stamp out these unacceptable attitudes and behaviours. It is spearheaded by the ANU Women's Department each year.

As I said at the beginning of this academic year at the Commencement Ceremony, and I have said it again at the screening of the film The Hunting Ground - sexual assault, rape, sexual abuse or any unwanted sexual attention has no place at this University, our university.  It will never be tolerated.

Throughout the week you have the opportunity to join me and other members of the ANU community as we sign the ANU Pledge and promise to make the campus a safe place for everyone.

From Monday until Thursday this week, there will be an opportunity to learn about the pledge from ANU Women's Department members, and show your commitment to its tenets by signing the Pledge banner, between 12pm and 2pm in Union Court.

The words of the pledge are simple:

I believe everyone should be safe from interpersonal violence, sexual harassment and assault.

I believe harassment and assault are the fault of the person using violence, not the person subjected to violence.

I pledge to help my campus be a safe place for everyone.

I urge you to read these words and think about what they mean to you, and what you can do to help people around you to be safe. We all have a role to play in this issue.

At the Commencement Ceremony I took the pledge in front of our community and committed myself to its tenets.

As your Vice-Chancellor I am affirming that the University will not shy away from talking about these issues. We will not pretend that it doesn't happen. We will not stand by and watch this happening to someone else. We will make a stand against it.

We all deserve to be safe and we all deserve to be respected.


If you, or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, please read the following material and seek support,, or call the ANUSA Women's Officer on 0467 092 808.




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Comment by Rose Coppin
1.15pm 18 Apr 2016

Having also watched "The Hunting Ground" and in light of the recent stories at Uni. of Melbourne and UNSW, it is heartening to see such strong support from the VC with regards to keeping the ANU community safe. I hope everyone on campus does their bit too.

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Comment by Abby A
1.15pm 18 Apr 2016

The seriousness that has been placed on this issue is applaudable.

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Comment by Purnjay Peshawaria
9.15am 19 Apr 2016

This is a praiseworthy step initiated by our vice chancellor. I congratulate him on behalf of the entire Canberra community in general and hope that our world will be free from any form of violence mental physical or sexual once and for all.

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Comment by Jane Green
3pm 20 Apr 2016

While I am greatly heartened that men have started speaking out about violence and sexual assault, we need to be self-aware that the words we use do not in themselves imply the acceptance of such violent actions.

I commend the comments by the Dalai Lama about 'internal disarmament', whereby we become conscious of the language we use in every day life that is violent and warlike.

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Comment by Ellie Greenwood
5pm 27 Apr 2016

Great to see you discussing these issues! The webpage you linked to at the bottom of your post, which is the only ANU web page giving information to students about sexual assault, is actually about what someone should do to support survivors of sexual assault. While this is vital information, there is no ANU webpage telling survivors of sexual assault where they can access support (in and outside the university), who they can report their sexual assault to at the university and what reporting would do, and importantly, what their options are if they have been sexually assaulted by another ANU student or an ANU staff member. This is essential information to provide clearly to students if you want to encourage reporting of sexual assault, and to demonstrate that we don't tolerate it. It must be made clear to all members of our community what action will be taken against perpetrators of sexual assault if we are saying it has 'no place at this University, our university'.


Over the last 2 months Professor Richard Baker the PVC(SE) has convened meetings with a wide range of stakeholders including the ANUSA and PARSA Women's Officers, the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre and the Women's Centre for Health Matters to rework all existing relevant web resources.  As part of this process ANU is also putting together a short online guide directly aimed at ANU students who have experienced sexual assaults.