Between 23 August and 2 December 2016, over 39,000 university students responded to a survey run by the Australian Human Rights Commission about the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment on university campuses.
The survey was launched as part of the Respect. Now. Always. campaign, adopted by Australian universities to raise awareness of sexual assault and harassment, promote support services for students, and gather data to improve policies and resources.
But supporters of the survey and those who have taken part were shocked when it was revealed earlier this week that the Commission would not be releasing the data publicly.
Universities Australia, who donated $1 million to the survey, made the decision to hold back the data against the advice of the Commission. Chair of Universities Australia and Vice Chancellor of Western Sydney University, Professor Barney Glover, said that he was not in a position to make universities reveal the data.
‘Universities Australia is a peak body, it’s not a body that can direct its members to do anything.’
Despite not being obligated to publish the findings of the survey, when triple j’s Hack program contacted Australia’s 39 universities yesterday, only five did not promise to release information about the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment on their campuses before the article was released at 4:30 pm.
One of these was Bond University, who said they were still deciding whether to release the data. Only four universities did not respond to Hack before the article was released yesterday afternoon: Victoria University, The University of Tasmania, The University of Adelaide, and Macquarie University.
Jasmine Noud, President of Macquarie University’s Women’s Collective, was concerned by the Macquarie’s initial lack of response.
‘The silence from Macquarie University on the issue so far is extremely worrying; while I am hopeful that the University will release our results – given the commitment that the VC has made to Respect.Now.Always and other campaigns – it is disheartening to see the University dragging its feet on what should be a very simple issue,’ Noud told Grapeshot. ‘Macquarie University students and staff deserve full transparency about the extent of sexual assault and harassment on our campus, and the Women’s Collective will be actively pushing the University for this to be the case.’
Macquarie University has now confirmed to Grapeshot that they will release the findings of the survey and data relating to sexual assault and harassment among its students once the information is made available. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, has said that the Commision expects to publish a report on the survey’s findings mid-year. The report will include recommendations to universities on preventing sexual assault and improving support for victims.
If you are a victim, have been affected or know someone who has been affected by sexual abuse, sexual harassment and or bullying, please contact Beyond Blue on 9810 6100, Life Line on 13 11 14 or if you are a student contact Macquarie University Campus Wellbeing 02 9850 7497.