VC's update - Respectful Relationships Committee and more

23 March 2018

Hi everyone,

In today's blog I want to provide an update you all on the work underway across ANU to develop a safe and respectful campus, particularly by tackling sexual misconduct at ANU. This issue is a top priority for me, and my team and I will continue to take action, guided by our independent Respectful Relationships Steering Committee.

The Committee and its Working Group, which helps implement decisions, have been meeting regularly to address the report findings and review the policies and procedures around sexual assault and sexual harassment. Today, I am pleased to announce some new measures.

The Discipline Rule was updated this week to include definitions of sexual assault and sexual harassment. This ensures that we have clarity on the types of behaviour that constitute misconduct, and the University will act on them if breached. Additionally, the definition of misconduct now includes a reference to the abusive use of intimate images, which is consistent newly enacted legislation in the ACT that aims to stamp out so-called 'revenge porn'. The Discipline Rule specifically allows for outcomes, including actions to be taken against the alleged offender, to be shared with the complainants.

I am also pleased to announce that our student leaders have developed a draft Community Standard Statement. A discussion paper is being developed from this draft that will be shared widely with students and staff, and feedback from this consultation process will inform the final Statement. The Statement will articulate the shared values and standards of behaviour expected from all members of our community. We are also implementing a Student Code of Conduct to sit alongside the Staff Code of Conduct. This will help ensure we can hold each other accountable, and encourage everyone in our community to take responsibly for creating a safe and respectful campus. I wish to thank our student leaders for their contribution to this shared endeavour.

Finally, I would like to thank the Respectful Relationships Steering Committee and Working Group for their work in implementing recommendations from the 2017 Review. This year, all first-year students living in a Residential Hall have completed the Consent Matters module. The online training has been backed up with face-to-face consent and sexual violence training for new students conducted by staff from the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre. More than 6,800 students have now completed this module.

In 2017, the University implemented bystander training for staff and students and we are in the process of implementing more comprehensive training in 2018. Many of the University's senior leaders, including heads of halls and colleges and senior academic and professional staff, have also been trained in delivering appropriate and supportive responses to disclosures of sexual violence, which we hope will help victims to come forward. To support our student residential leaders, we have also implemented a training module on how to support someone who is disclosing sexual harassment and/or assault.

So, we are making progress, but we still have much to do. I know there is frustration that we have not achieved more, but rest assured this will remain a priority for me - and I expect it to be so for every member of our community. I thank everyone who has worked hard on the improvements we have made, and challenge our whole community to come together to make our campus the safest and most respectful place to work and study in Australia.  More detail of support services available can be found here

Also this week, I would like to congratulate Professor Jacquie Lo, who is commencing a second term as Chair of the ANU Academic Board. Professor Lo's leadership has seen the Board focus on strategic and planning matters, working more closely with the University Senior Leadership team and the wider ANU community. I thank Professor Lo for her leadership and look forward to working with her and the Board over the coming two years. 

Following the announcement of Professor Mick Dodson's retirement and his wonderful last lecture (!) yesterday evening, I am delighted to welcome Associate Professor Asmi Wood as the interim Director of the National Centre for Indigenous Studies (NCIS). Asmi's leadership as an Indigenous scholar places him well to build on the legacy Mick has built at NCIS, and to lead the Centre during this period of transition.  

Finally, many of us will have been shocked at the devastation caused to the Tathra community by the bushfires last weekend. The ANU Medical School's Rural Clinical School has a strong presence in that region and our great medical students are raising funds to support the rebuild. For more information, please visit this website.

Have a good weekend,