The Safe and Respectful Communities team are undertaking a number of initiatives, programs and activities which aim to prevent violence, abuse and harassment from occurring on our campuses.
Initiatives and projects
Key programs and initiativesView other priorities and initiatives
eSafety has been identified as an emerging area of concern and will continue to be major focus for the SARC team in 2022.
The SARC team are establishing a working group that will help create awareness of online harm and help roll-out campaigns and initiatives aiming to prevent online harm in our community. Our relevant UOW Policies and Rules are also being reviewed to ensure everyone is aware of both their rights and responsibilities whilst online.
Consent Matters is an online module for UOW students and staff that covers sexual consent, communication in relationships, and bystander intervention. This course will help people understand what consent is and identify situations where it can’t be given.
This online module will become a compulsory for all enrolled students in 2022.
Set the Bar
The SARC team are working closely with community partner, Wollongong Local Liquor Accord, to help improve student safety off campus.
Set the Bar is a free, interactive online training which has been created for staff working in pubs, clubs and licensed venues on how to recognise, report and call out undesirable behaviour.
Set the Bar has been developed by the SARC team in consultation with the Wollongong Local Liquor Accord and was recently awarded a Diamond LearnX awards for Best Learning and Development Project (Best Learning Campaign).
Ride with Respect
The Ride with Respect initiative is designed to help improve awareness of reporting and support options and communicate strategies of safe bystander intervention and techniques to encourage people witnessing incidents to have the confidence to speak out, take action and report incidents of violence, abuse and harassment.
While the responsibility for sexual harm, domestic and family violence, bullying or discrimination lies with the perpetrators of these crimes, we all play a role in creating a culture of respect in our community.
Launching in 2023, the Ride with Respect campaign has been created by the SARC team in collaboration with design students and community transport partners.
Working with our communities
The Safe and Respectful Communities Team works closely with community partners to share knowledge about education and awareness initiatives and programs and to ensure referral and response information is accurate and up to date.
Specific Community Partnerships
The Safe and Respectful Communities Team enjoys positive relationships with a number of community service providers working in the areas of sexual assault and domestic violence and welcome engagements from services we have not yet engaged in.
An example of a dynamic community partnership is our relationship with the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre (IWHC). The CEO of the IWHC is a member of the SARC Advisory Group and UOW and the IWHC collaborate on projects and initiatives, for example:
- Using a UOW student intern working at the IWHC to design and publish social media content to UOW students and young people in the local community educating them about consent and how to contact SARC and the IWHC
- UOW providing advocacy and support for the IWHC’s proposal for an Australia first Domestic Violence Women’s Trauma Recovery Centre.
Governance and Community
Our community links are demonstrated through the following governance arrangements:
- By the inclusion of members from local health and police services and via a community service provider on our Safe and Respectful Communities Advisory Group
- Via regular community roundtable meetings involving community representatives across Wollongong and other local areas
Other priorities and initiatives
- Increasing education and training
- Improving staffing, training and awareness within student accommodations
- Implementing structural and governance changes for SARC
- Establishing an advisory group and working party
- Developing and implementing policy
- Increasing student awareness and community engagement
- Reporting on national reviews and recommendations
- Promoting an inclusive and equitable campus for all
First level responder training
SARC have created the First Level Responder online training course which is offered to all staff and to students who may potentially receive disclosures of sexual assault or sexual harassment. The training promotes a safe, respectful community, free from violence and intimidation, and provided participants with some guidance on what to say and do when someone makes a disclosure of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Hundreds of staff and students have completed this training including professional and academic staff, security staff, Residence Staff and Student Leaders, as well as members of the Student Advisory Council and Clubs and Societies Executives.
A review and update of the training package was recently completed as a result of feedback provided by staff and students.
Staff interested in undertaking this training should refer to Unified.
Australian Psychological Society & Universities Australia Training
UOW encourages staff and student leaders from across UOW to undertake this online training program by the Australian Psychological Society and Universities Australia.
This program has been created 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.
Staff interested in undertaking this training should refer to Unified.
Being Well, Living Well program
UOW has partnered with Epigeum in collaboration with mental health experts, higher education professionals, university students and staff to develop the ‘Being Well, Living Well’ training program.
This program includes a module on staying safe that incorporates material on online safety, healthy relationships, sexual health, alcohol and drugs, and is embedded in induction programs for identified cohorts of commencing students.
As a result of the Change the Course report, UOW has conducted an independent review of SASH responses in student accommodation and have doubled staff, student leader and resident training and awareness efforts. Student Leader training, including bystander intervention, is offered to Resident Ambassadors, and all accommodation staff engage in First Level Responder training every year. The student resident orientation also includes information about consent, the drivers of sexual assault and sexual harassment and where to seek support and make a report if incidents do occur.
UOW has also comprehensively reviewed the student leader model, on call processes, and after hours and weekend staffing model. This new model includes greater access to afterhours support and reporting services for students, including 24/7 services.
In early 2018, the UOW SARC team was formally established as a dedicated operational team within the Student and Accommodation Services Division (SASD). The team were charged with implementing the recommendations of the Change the Course Report and preventing and responding to incidents of sexual assault and harassment (SASH).
In 2021, the governance arrangements for the Safe and Respectful Communities function were reconsidered. Feedback from students and staff was taken into account and the Safe and Respectful Communities Unit was moved into the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s portfolio, where it will be independent of other student administration function. This realignment of the SARC team also ensures clear separation between the support and investigation of SASH incidents, and the areas of the university where they may occur.
Since the relocation of the SARC Unit, additional staff with mediation and community service delivery skills and experience have been appointed to the SARC team.
Changes were also made to the governance of the Safe and Respectful Communities Advisory Group to ensure group is chaired by a person with direct expertise in SASH and domestic violence issues, and to widen collaboration and discussion with students, community service providers and academics researching in the field. A series of regular student, community and researcher roundtables were instituted to provide for active discussions of service and initiatives feeding into the Advisory Group and contributing to service evaluation and improvements.
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, please contact SARC.
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 harassment at Australian universities 2017 and the Guidelines for University Responses to Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, published by Universities Australia.
UOW's Sexual Harm Response Policy provides details of the support and guidance available to victim-survivors of any form of sexual harm; provides internal and external reporting options; and outlines UOW’s response to dealing with reports of sexual harm. This significant piece of work demonstrates UOW’s ongoing commitment to dealing with incidents with compassion and in a trauma-informed way.
In 2022 an expert review of our policies is being undertaken to ensure alignment with current best practice and recommendations from the National Student Safety Survey. We are working closely with senior advisors from Our Watch as part of Education for Equality implementation support provided through funding from Universities Australia.
In late 2021, SARC implemented a series of Roundtables with community service providers, students and researchers to ensure an ongoing dialogue about education, services and responses to sexual assault, harassment and domestic violence to ensure collaboration, coordination and best practice. The quarterly roundtables have helped develop a strong relationships between the SARC team and community service providers such as the local health service, police, the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre, Community Legal Centres and Victims Services. The roundtables have also allowed SARC to enhance its support and resources by listening to student voice and allowing it to inform our service delivery.
2022 O-Week activities
SARC kicked off 2022 with a RESPECT installation on the Duck Pond lawn during Campus Fest. Many students and staff visited the installation and showed their commitment to making a stand against all forms for violence in the community and at UOW, as well as support for victims.
SARC also held a virtual orientation session which included an introduction to the SARC team and provided information and resources on what to do if you witness or experience any form of sexual harm, harassment, domestic or family violence, bullying or discrimination.
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.
Regional campus roadshow
The SARC team will be conducting a travelling road show to Regional Campuses in Autumn Session 2022. We look forward to meeting our colleagues and students on regional campuses and the opportunity to hear their concerns about sexual harm, respect and safety on campus.
Our response to the AHRC Change the Course report
The University has published a report outlining how UOW has implemented the recommendations of the AHRC Change the course report 2017. You can read more about what UOW has done in response to the report here.
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.
The 2022 Action Plan will be released soon after the release of the NSSS results in March 2022.
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.
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.
All members of the SARC team are trained UOW Allies and work closely with the Ally Network on campaigns and initiatives that celebrate the diversity at UOW.
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.
Contact the SARC team
The SARC team is responsible for leading the University’s work to prevent violence, abuse and harassment from occurring on our campuses. They are also responsible for providing a coordinated response and support if it does happen.