Today is a difficult day for our university community, particularly for sexual harassment and sexual assault victim-survivors, as we see the 2021 National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) results published and read of the persistence of significant sexual harassment and sexual assault rates in university contexts.
Overview of the NSSS
The NSSS is the second national, sector-wide survey under Universities Australia’s Respect. Now. Always. initiative, which aims to measure student perceptions of safety at Australian universities and experiences relating to sexual harassment and sexual assault. The NSSS builds on the foundational 2016 National Student Survey and Change the Course Report released in 2017.
The NSSS was conducted in late 2021 by the independent Social Research Centre, which selected a representative sample of student cohorts at each university. It was completed by 43,819 students from 38 universities, including 1,052 UOW students.
Our Pledge to do more
The 2021 NSSS reflects the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault observed across Australian society is, unfortunately, present in our university. The persistently high levels of incidents are a testament that the drivers of sexual harassment and sexual assault are ingrained in our culture and society and need collective and collaborative action to dismantle. This is a problem for the whole of society, our sector, but we take ownership of the challenge at UOW.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the UOW students who responded to the NSSS and those who bravely shared their personal stories in the qualitative NSSS report. Your contributions will help us make positive changes, recognise where well-intentioned measures may have fallen short, and see where there are meaningful signs of progress and change that we can enhance.
We are sorry to every person who has experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault during their time at UOW. We are sorry for what you have endured and how it may have affected your relationships, mental health, studies, and life.
I recognise that reading about sexual harrassment and sexual assault can trigger trauma. Students or staff who experience any forms of harassment, violence or abuse at UOW are encouraged to speak out and seek support.
Our Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) Team is available 9 am – 5 pm, Monday to Friday and is on standby to respond to emergencies 24/7 on +61 2 4221 3344 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Other key UOW and community support services include:
What is UOW doing?
At UOW, we’ve already put a lot of measures in place to improve safety and promote a culture of respect. But we know we need to do more. We note and endorse the key areas for continued action as outlined in the NSSS Report. We will reflect on our results and engage with our community to build on UOW’s Action Plan. In response to the 2016 National Student Survey and the resulting Change the Course Report, UOW has implemented a number of reviews of key student-facing functions, changes to our processes and policies, and a significant training and awareness-raising program for staff and students. Our response can be found on the UOW website. Since August 2021, UOW has expanded its Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) team and ensured its independence from other student operational areas and services. This has enabled the team to expand its community consultation and increase its education and awareness initiatives, with a focus on intersectionality.
Every person who attends university has the right to be safe and feel safe and the right to believe they will be treated with respect, dignity, and fairness. Even one incidence of sexual harassment and sexual assault is one too many.