Launch of national student survey on sexual assault and harassment


The first national student survey looking at sexual assault and harassment at universities was launched at UNSW on Tuesday 23 August 2016. The Respect. Now. Always. survey is part of Universities Australia’s (UA) broader campaign to prevent and address sexual assault and harassment at universities and will gather data on the prevalence and nature of sexual assault and harassment of university students and their reporting experiences. 

The survey stems from research led by Professor Andrea Durbach and the AHRCentre's project 'Strengthening Australian University Response to sexual assault and harassment', in collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Commission (‘Commission’), which is implementing the survey with Roy Morgan.

The survey was launched by Professor Barney Glover, Vice-Chancellor of Western Sydney University and Chair of Universities Australia, together with President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs; Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins; Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek; NUS President Sinead Collee and National Women’s Officer, Heidi La Paglia.

In his opening remarks, Professor Ian Jacobs, President and Vice-Chancellor of UNSW and UA’s lead Vice-Chancellor on Equity and Diversity, stated that sexual assault and harassment were ‘undeniable realities’ that affected students, staff and visitors both on and off campus and that more reliable data was required in order to bring these issues “under the strongest spotlight, confront them, and develop effective strategies to tackle them.”

A key component of the AHRCentre’s project 'Strengthening Australian University Response to sexual assault and harassment' is the development of good practice policies and procedures for adaptation and application by Australian universities, drawing on an analysis of the survey results by the Commission and comparative international research.  The AHRCentre project reflects a call by Commission President, Gillian Triggs, that the university sector develop a “nation-wide consistent” policy that, in the words of Professor Barney Glover, “keep improving our responses and the support we provide to students who have experienced sexual assault or harassment.”

Seed funding for the development of the survey was provided by the Hunting Ground Australia Project


Photo, left to right: AHRCentre Director Andrea Durbach, National Women’s Officer, Heidi La PagliaNUS President Sinead Collee and AHRC Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins.

With thanks to Kirsten Keith (words) and Stephen Offner (photo).