Words || Emma Harvey
As of this week, only seven Australian Universities have committed to an annual release of internal data regarding sexual assault and harassment on their campuses.
Macquarie University is not among them.
Following the release of an AHRC report on sexual assault and harassment at Australian universities earlier this month, Universities Australia (UA) committed to another nation-wide survey in three years’ time.
This was not enough for the University of Sydney (USYD), who has announced that it will be releasing the number of sexual assault and sexual harassment complaints and incidents it receives each year.
When Triple J’s Hack contacted all 39 of Australia’s universities, only seven responded that they would be doing the same. They are: ANU, La Trobe University, Swinburne University of Technology, University of New South Wales, University of Queensland, USYD and Western Sydney University.
A further seven universities didn’t respond to the question, and 10 said that they were still considering their decision. Macquarie was among 12 universities who responded with a hard no.
The AHRC report on sexual assault revealed that a third of Macquarie University students have been sexually harassed in a university setting and 77 out of 950 respondents had been sexually assaulted somewhere in 2015 and 2016. On the day these results were released, the university hosted a speaker event lead by the Respect.Now.Always team and attended by Vice Chancellor, Professor Bruce Dowton. At the event, Professor Dowton assured those gathered that there would be continued and meaningful changes made to university policy and culture.
President of the Women’s Collective, Jasmine Noud, says the university’s decision not to publish their yearly data on sexual assault and harassment undermines the pledges they have made to support the student community and implement ongoing changes.
“It seems to be just another example of the administration publicly claiming to support vulnerable students and committing to action publicly but failing to follow through when it really matters,” says Noud. “It’s disappointing that Macquarie is not following the lead of other universities in continuing to make themselves accountable.”
The Vice Chancellor has still failed to contact the Women’s Collective to begin the process of setting up a student consultation group on the recent sexual assault report and recommendations.
A university spokesperson told Grapeshot: “Macquarie University is committed to working with its students to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault on its campus, and to make support available and accessible for any students that needs it. We are reviewing the many recommendations that have been made following the release of the AHRC’s report, and considering how best to implement changes to respond in a manner that meets our students’ needs, and we support a further national survey in three years’ time to reflect on the effectiveness of that response.”
For support in dealing with sexual harassment and assault, head to www.mq.edu.au/respect.
Respect.Now.Always will be holding a Student Meeting on the 31st August to further discuss the results and give a project update. It will be held in E7A 801.