SRC Statement RE: AHRC National Survey Results

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Words || Izzie Weerasooriya, Sam Hurrell and Mahyar Pourzand, on behalf of the SRC

The Student Representative Committee (SRC) would like to acknowledge and discuss the results from the Australian Human Rights Commission survey that were released on August 1st 2017, addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault on Universities across Australia.

The SRC would like to thank all and any students that participated in the survey, not just Macquarie students but also all students across the nation; we are sorry that this happened to you – it is not your fault. We would like to thank you for your bravery in sharing your story and experience.

The survey results found:

  • One in five students were sexually harassed in a university setting in 2016 (excluding travel to and from university)
  • 94% of students who were sexually harassed and 87% of students who were sexually assaulted did NOT make a formal report or complaint to their university; 59% of Macquarie University respondents said they did not know where to go within the university to make a complaint about sexual harassment
  • 12% of MQ respondents did not seek support because they felt embarrassed or ashamed, 9% of MQ respondents worried that they may not be believed and 5% of MQ respondents did not seek support from the university in relation to sexual harassment at university because they did not think the incident would be kept confidential.

These figures are severely disappointing. One in five students is one too many and we wholeheartedly agree with Vice Chancellor, Bruce Dowton when he stated that “sexual assault and sexual harassment have no place on any university campus”. Macquarie University is our community and it is unacceptable that there are students within our community that do not know of the support services available to them. It is unacceptable that students who have experienced sexual assault or harassment feel embarrassed or ashamed, worry that they may not be believed or that their experience would not be kept confidential.

Our aim as the Student Representative Committee is to represent all 41,311 of you, to ensure that all of you feel safe and included on campus and that you know where to go and who to contact should a sexual harassment or assault occur. The SRC is committed to creating a safer, more inclusive campus for all students – regardless of age, gender, disability, race or religion. We have focused on a few key facts from the survey results that we believe we can change in the short term – knowledge of support services, and the opportunities available to students to better understand sexual harassment and sexual assault. We have started to make our campus safer by lighting the darker parts of the campus; we will be working closely with the University to implement sustainable and effective change within our community in the long term.

These are small changes, but they are necessary in order to begin a cultural change within this community. If you have enquiries or concerns, feel free to email us at src@mq.edu.au, contact us on Facebook (Macquarie University SRC) or Instagram  (@mq_src)

We would also like to acknowledge and thank our student publication, Grapeshot, Jasmine Noud and the Women’s Collective and Tatiana Lozano and Jonathon Papadopoulo from the Equity & Diversity (Students) unit for their continuing work in reporting, supporting and educating Macquarie University staff and students in these incredibly important matters.

Campus Wellbeing can be found on Level 2 of Building C8A, you can contact them on (02) 9850 7497 or campuswellbeing@mq.edu.au

Universities Australia Sexual Assault Hotline: 1800 572 224

1800 RESPECT, sexual assault counselling and information hotline: 1800 737 732

Information regarding other support services available to students can be found at: www.mq.edu.au/respect

A complete report and Macquarie-specific data can be found at: http://www.mq.edu.au/newsroom/2017/08/01/australian-human-rights-commission-report-macquarie-statement/