UOW takes its commitment to providing a safe and respectful community seriously. In doing so, the University has launched a number of programs and initiatives.
What we are doing
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
What does respect mean to the UOW community? We asked, and found out!
In recognition of the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Universities Australia has announced the postponement of the Respect.Now.Always national student survey planned for 2020. The survey has been postponed until September 2021. UOW remains committed to its ongoing participation in the national survey.
O-Week activities: Spring 2020
Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) were proud to be a part of UOW’s first Virtual Orientation, in Spring Session 2020. 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 recent Orientation Festival activities for new and returning residents at Kooloobong Village. 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.
New policy implemented
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’ report on sexual assault and sexual harassment’ and Universities Australia ‘Guidelines for University Responses to Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment’.
The 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.
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 UOW Accommodation Services 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.
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. Over 800 people have completed this training including professional and academic staff, security staff, resident managers, library staff, members of the Student Advisory Council, WUSA, WUPA, and Student Resident Leaders. Training will continue to be offered to students and staff in 2020.
A student-led evaluation of the First Level Responder training has recently been completed. As a result, the training package has been reviewed and updated in response to the findings of this evaluation. Training will continue to be offered to students and staff in 2020.
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.
Safe and Respectful Communities Advisory Group
The University of Wollongong has established the UOW 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.
A committee evaluation and review has recently been conducted, of both the Advisory Group and the Working Party, 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. Once finalised and approved the reviewed terms of reference will be made available. For enquiries email email@example.com.
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 August 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.
Forming part of its response to the recommendations of the AHRC Change the Course report, the University of Wollongong has completed the following reviews, and published the executive report and recommendations from each review below:
- 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.
O-Week activities: Autumn 2020
The Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) team held a number of activities to engage with students during O-Week including the SARC market stall and the Respect Is… cube. During O-Week staff engaged students in discussions around the topic of respect and were able to raise awareness of programs and support services available to students. A number of well attended “Safety and Support on Campus” information sessions were held during O-Week with specific sessions for international students. These sessions were a collaboration between UOW Security, local police, Wollongong City Council and the SARC team to provide students with information on safety and support services, campus security, the SafeZone app and the Student Code of Conduct.
The SARC team worked closely with O-Week event organisers to promote safe and respectful behaviours at all events and to clearly communicate the message that UOW places the highest priority on providing a safe environment for all students and staff.
Our response to the AHRC Report
The University has published a report outlining how UOW has implemented the recommendations from Change the course: National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities 2017 (PDF). Additionally the Safe and Respectful Communities Action Plan 2019-20 guides the activities the University is undertaking to respond to the recommendations.