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Student tells of ‘dismissive’ security as court case commences over alleged indecent assault in Macquarie Student Village

WORDs by Anna Glen

A Macquarie student has told the Downing Centre District Court that security staff was “dismissive” and “disbelieving” when she reported being indecently assaulted at the Macquarie Student Village in 2013.

The woman described being awoken around 3:30am to a “cold hand” rubbing her thigh and genitals on February 21. She immediately notified security and told the court “[The security] were just very unhelpful in their response, they just said to keep the doors and windows shut and pull the blinds down.”

The Village is privately run by Transfield Holdings and the University has subsequently distanced itself from the incident, telling Grapeshot the Village “is owned and operated by the independent Campus Living Villages (CLV) Pty Ltd, part of Transfield Holdings” adding that “while the facility concerned provides accommodation for students of the University, the facilities are independent of Macquarie University in terms of their ownership, security and management.”

The event attracted widespread media attention back in 2013 after it came to light that the Village accommodation was part of a Red Cross program to house asylum seekers on bridging visas, along with Western Sydney University. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship later confirmed that while the individual arrested was a refugee on a bridging visa, he was not a Campus Living resident or a client of the Red Cross.

Incidentally, Transfield Holdings held shares in Transfield Services in 2013, which is the same company that holds contracts with detention centres on Manus Island. These shares were formally withdrawn in September 2014.

Since the incident, the University says “significant steps” have been taken to improve the safety and security of students living in the Village and other accommodation surrounding the University. This includes fencing around the Village, installation of security screens on windows, improved reporting procedures, accommodation and mental health training for residential advisors, and regular meetings with key University staff to discuss student engagement and security matters.

The perpetrator is being heard before a jury and has admitted to entering the student’s apartment but is pleading not guilty to aggravated break and enter with indecent assault. The University has provided ongoing counselling and support to the student as the court process has progressed, including during the current hearing in the Downing Centre.

If this article raises any concerns with you please contact campus wellbeing at campuswellbeing@mq.edu.au or phone +61 2 9850 7497.