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June 29, 2022

Student survey on sexual violence to help shape safer communities

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Student and survivor safety and wellbeing is at the centre of a Universities Australia survey which is a crucial step in preventing sexual violence and supporting those who have experienced it in their communities.

Conducted on behalf of Universities Australia by the Social Research Centre (SRC) in partnership with leading violence prevention expert Dr Anastasia Powell of RMIT University, 2021 National Student Safety Surve will collect data on the scale and nature of university student experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the survey – which will run until 3 October – builds on the first, foundational survey conducted in 2016 as part of the world-leading Respect. Now. Always. initiative. ‘Any incident of sexual violence that occurs inside or outside of our university communities is one too many,’ said Ms Jackson.

Universities acknowledge the lived experience of victims and survivors

‘Universities acknowledge the lived experience of victims and survivors of sexual violence, some of whom may be participating in this survey. We wholeheartedly thank students for sharing their experiences and pay tribute to the courage it takes to do so.

‘Sexual violence is a society-wide issue. Many in our community are at greater risk including young women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women with disability and people in the LGBTIQ+ community.

‘Our universities recognise their responsibility and are determined to build on their commitment to prevent sexual violence and support those who have experienced it.’

Survey will randomly sample students

The national survey will be conducted online and will randomly sample students from universities across the sector. Up to 10,000 students will be asked to participate from each university, depending on its size. All current and recent university students enrolled in the past five years will also be able to share their story anonymously online.

Since the release of the 2016 survey, universities have implemented 800 major actions to prevent and respond to sexual violence in their institutions, including first responder training for student leaders, and consent and bystander training for staff and students.

Due to a change in methodology, the prevalence rate arising out of the 2021 survey cannot be directly comparable to the 2016 survey.

Free and confidential support services are available for people who would like to seek assistance, including at universities.

‘It is important to stress the confidentiality of all survey responses, including responses which recount or detail any sexual harassment or assault a student may have experienced or witnessed,’ said Ms Jackson.

Participants will be able to stop and restart at any point should they wish to step away and take a break.’

Support services include:

A national report will be released in early 2022.

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