What we are doing

UOW takes its commitment to providing a safe and respectful community seriously. In doing so, the University has launched a number of programs, activities and initiatives.

Our plan of action

The University has created an Action Plan, approved by the Vice-Chancellor, which informs and guides the activities we are undertaking to provide a safe and respectful community at UOW.

SARC Action Plan 2019-2020

Programs, activities and initatives

COVID-19 update

New resources and training have been developed for both students and staff in response to changes affecting UOW campuses and residences, arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to feedback from UOW students and staff, the Safe and Respectful Communities team have collaborated with Workplace Health and Safety, the Pro- Vice Chancellor (Students) and Student and Accommodation Services Division to develop resources that support students and staff in ensuring UOW continues to be a safe and respectful environment, on campus, in residences and in online learning platforms during these unprecedented times.

Set the Bar

The SARC team are working closely with community partner, Wollongong Local Liquor Accord, to help improve student safety off campus. Using funding from a UOW Community Engagement Grant, the team have been able to create and implement training for staff working in Wollongong licensed venues on how to recognise, report and call out undesirable behaviour.

Find out more

First level responder training

First Level Responder training is offered to all staff and to students who are likely to receive disclosures of sexual assault or sexual harassment. The training promotes a safe, respectful community, free from violence and intimidation and includes information about the UOW Support First model of reporting and response.

More than 700 staff and students have completed this training including professional and academic staff, security staff, resident managers, library staff, members of the Student Advisory CouncilWUSAWUPA, and Student Resident Leaders.

A review and update of the training package was recently completed as a result of a student-led evaluation of the First Level Responder training.

First level responder training continues to be offered to students and staff.

Staff interested in undertaking this training should refer to PODS for dates and registration details.

View information for staff

Consent Matters training

Consent Matters is an online module for students and staff that covers sexual consent, communication in relationships, and bystander intervention. This course will help people understand what consent looks like and identify situations where it can’t be given.

The Consent Matters course is available to all staff and students at UOW.

Find out more

Sexual harassment and sexual assault: What are the drivers and how can staff respond?

This online training program has been created by the Australian Psychological Society & Universities Australia with the vision to educate university staff about sexual harassment and sexual assault policies and practices within the Australian university sector and the impact on individuals. This training is available to all university staff, including academic staff, professional staff, general staff and university counsellors who may potentially come into contact with an individual affected by sexual harassment or sexual assault or a concerned member of the university community.

This free hour-long training aims to provide university staff with practical information and outcomes such as:

  • Identify behaviours that constitute sexual harassment and sexual assault
  • Understand their drivers
  • Better understand how often they occur and their effects
  • Identify barriers to reporting, disclosing and seeking help
  • Respond and support students and staff appropriately and effectively
  • Identify support systems in your university

Staff interested in undertaking this training should refer to PODS for registration details, or directly through the Australian Psychological Society website.


UOW has developed and implemented the new Improper Sexual Conduct Response Policy, in accordance with the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Change the Course: national report on sexual assault and sexual harrassment at Australian universities 2017 and the Guidelines for University Responses to Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, published by Universities Australia.

UOW's Improper Sexual Conduct Response Policy provides details of the support and guidance available to individuals who may have suffered any form of improper sexual conduct; provides internal and external reporting options; and outlines UOW’s response to dealing with incidents of alleged improper sexual conduct. This significant piece of work demonstrates UOW’s ongoing commitment to dealing with incidents of improper sexual conduct involving any member of the UOW community in a manner that is underpinned by trauma-informed principles.

View policy

2021 O-Week activities

Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) were proud to be a part of 2021 Virtual Orientation Expo. The Virtual Orientation included information, resources and live streamed sessions to welcome new students and provide important information about studying at UOW. Through this event the SARC team promoted the idea of respect and UOW’s ongoing commitment to creating a safe and respectful environment for all members of our community. The event was also an opportunity to share resources and information around programs and support options available to students.

SARC was also represented at the Orientation Festival for new and returning residents at Kooloobong Village and Campus East. The festival events focussed on resident well-being and strengthening the sense of community. The SARC team participated in a range of events and encouraged residents to think about the role we all have to play in contributing to a safe and respectful environment.

ResFlix – A Phoney Film Festival

Resflix, a Phoney Film Festival, was born out of one resident's idea of how to encourage a safe drinking culture and to generate peer-to-peer conversation in a way that’s relatable. The competition encouraged UOW students in residence to create a short film, that addressed the theme “Dial it Back”, as in dial back your drinking.

12 finalist films were screened to an audience of over 300 people at an event in 2019 and were judged on the night by a panel of staff, students and industry experts. The audience also had an opportunity to vote for their favourite in the People’s Choice award.

Watch the winning entry

UOW has established the Safe and Respectful Communities Advisory Group (SARCA Group) to provide advice directly to the Vice-Chancellor to address the recommendations issued in the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Report; Change the course: national report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities 2017. The Advisory Group is supported by the Safe and Respectful Communities Working Party who have responsibility for implementing the Vice-Chancellor approved recommendations of the Advisory Group.

Membership of the Advisory Group includes two student representatives, who ensure that the student voice on these matters is heard at the highest level. 

A committee evaluation and review of both the Advisory Group and the Working Party was recently conducted to ensure continuous improvement and enhancement of the groups’ operations. Feedback from the evaluation process has led to a review of the current SARCA terms of reference (TOR) and membership provisions.

Enquiries about the SARCA Group can be sent to uow-sarc@uow.edu.au.

Image of two female students standing back to back

We are proud of our culture at UOW where people can be their authentic selves and have policies and practices in place to ensure that we provide a fair and equitable campus. We welcome anyone regardless of age, race, disability, colour, gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, marital or relationship status, or economic background.

For three consecutive years, the University has received a Bronze Award at the Australian Workplace Equality Index, a rigorous and evidence-based benchmarking index that annually assesses workplaces in the progress and impact of gender, sex and sexuality diversity inclusion initiatives.

Find out more about UOW's diversity and inclusivity

Our response to the AHRC Change the Course report

UOW report

The University has published a report outlining how UOW has implemented the recommendations of the AHRC Change the course report 2017.

Additionally, the Safe and Respectful Communities Action Plan 2019-20 has been implemented, and guides the activities the University is undertaking to respond to the recommendations.


Reviews and recommendations

Forming part of its response to the recommendations of the AHRC Change the course report 2017, UOW has also completed the following reviews and published the executive summary and recommendations from each review.

  • AHRC Recommendation 4: Commission an independent, expert led review of existing university policies and response pathways in relation to sexual assault and sexual harassment. 
  • AHRC Recommendation 7: Conduct an audit of university counselling services.
  • AHRC Recommendation 9: Commission an independent, expert-led review of the factors which contribute to sexual assault and sexual harassment in (university accommodation) settings.

Significant progress has already been made in implementing the recommendations of each review, supported by the Vice-Chancellor. The University is committed to ensuring that all recommendations are implemented and evaluated as part of the University’s commitment to creating a safe and respectful environment for all members of our community.

Respect Is...

What does respect mean to the UOW community? We asked, and found out!

Contact the SARC team

The Safe and Respectful Communities team is responsible for leading the University’s work to prevent sexual assault and harassment from occurring on our campuses and for providing coordinated response and support if it does happen.