Dear students, this week is Respect Week at UOW. I could not be more proud and grateful to those who have worked very hard to pull this impressive and important program of events together.
There are still 3 days remaining in our inaugural Respect Week program. If you haven’t yet registered to attend any of the events, I really encourage you to do so. This cause is very important to UOW, and its thanks to students such as PhD researcher Elle Coleman; to each individual student who participated in the National Student Safety Survey; and thanks to students and staff at UOW who are using their voices and their expertise to shape the narrative not only within our own community, but more broadly.
In the 2021 National Student Safety Survey results, we saw a staggering 18.5% of students have experienced sexual harassment since beginning university, and 6% of students have experienced sexual assault. These are real human experiences, and there is nothing okay about that. We can and must do better to prevent sexual assault and harassment on our campuses. To every person who has experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault, we are deeply sorry. Every person who attends university has the right to be safe, and the right to believe they will be treated with respect, dignity, and fairness. This is something that we need to address together.
Tomorrow’s event An afternoon with Grace Tame and Lucy Smith is a particularly special one, with Grace Tame, 2021 Australian of the Year, making the keynote address, followed by a panel discussion on preventing sexual violence in our communities, emceed by Lucy Smith. It’s a privilege to have both these women visiting our campus and sharing their time with us. Please join us in the UniHall if you can. Registrations are essential.
Grace Tame was awarded Australian of the Year in 2021. She is a brave and passionate advocate for systemic change to prevent child sexual abuse. Since winning Australian of the Year, she has used her voice and her platform to raise awareness for the causes she believes in, and though admirable, I’m sure at times it has been incredibly difficult. We are so grateful to her, for her contributions to this cause – changing the dialogue, the focus and the momentum of these topics in Australian culture.
We are also proud and grateful to have Triple J presenter, broadcaster, music journalist and UOW alumni, Lucy Smith emceeing. Lucy completed a Bachelor of Journalism at UOW in 2015 and her career in multimedia and broadcasting began via UOWTV, but according to Lucy, her biggest contribution was ‘slinging chip rolls’ as a UniBar employee for two years while studying at UOW.
I am filled with so much hope after just two days of Respect Week. There are so many thoughtful young leaders, and keen listeners attending these sessions and giving momentum to these discussions. I truly believe we have the expertise, information, and advocacy to make safety and respect on campus a reality for all.
Finally, I want to remind all students to keep up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. In NSW, 95% of people are eligible for a third dose, and a fourth dose is recommended for people at increased risk of severe illness. To receive the best protection against serious illness, you should stay up to date with all vaccinations recommended for your age or individual health needs.
Enjoy the rest of your week and don’t forget to register for a Respect Week event.