Immediate action needed to address sexual assault and sexual harassment
Read the full list of PARSA/ANUSA recommendations
For decades, the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment has not been taken seriously by universities across Australia- survivors have been blamed for their assault, perpetrators have gone unpunished and those who speak out have been silenced. To date the response of ANU has been totally inadequate.
The results of the AHRC survey shows that sexual assault and sexual harassment is endemic, both at ANU and in universities throughout Australia. This is a national problem - no university can say sexual assault does not happen at their institution. At ANU some issues will be more pronounced - such as on-campus and supervisory relationships - reflecting the composition of our student body.
The ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) and ANU Students’ Association (ANUSA) and the stand in solidarity to demand that ANU take immediate action to combat sexual assault and sexual harassment in our university communities, and apologise for past mishandlings of sexual assault and sexual harassment, following the release of the results of the Australian Human Right Commission’s Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment survey.
Action by ANU to address the reccommendations will ensure that the safety of students on campus, that survivors are provided with high-quality support services, and that perpetrators of sexual violence are punished.
As students, we have a right to feel safe in our community and access our education free from violence. ANUSA and PARSA demand that the ANU implement the following changes:
1. Establish a centralised sexual assault and sexual harassment policy
Create an accessible, centralised policy that fosters a culture of belief for survivors and accountability for perpetrators. ANUSA and PARSA acknowledge that there is currently an external review process underway that is expected to produce a draft centralised sexual assault and sexual harassment policy as well as resource recommendations for ANU. We anticipate this policy to be presented and voted on at the 1 December 2017 ANU Council meeting.
2. Create a centralised office to handle all reports, complaints and investigations of sexual assault and sexual harassment
Create a central, independent office and separate staff position/s to coordinate the collection of reporting information and conduct internal investigations by Semester 1 2019. The centralised office should be responsible for investigating and acting upon reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Any centralised office or staff should understand the need for confidentiality, accountability, and keeping survivors informed of the internal investigative processes.
3. Engage in a process of restorative justice
The ANU should facilitate a process of restorative justice for survivors whose cases have been mishandled by senior management. We expect the scope and design of the process to be finalised within three months, with a public announcement by 1st November 2017. The end goal of this restorative process should be a genuine, meaningful, and public apology delivered by the Vice Chancellor.
4. Resource and fund specialised staff to properly support student survivors and students responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment
The burden of supporting and advocating for survivors should fall on ANU, not students. Therefore, ANU must (a) fund Canberra Rape Crisis Centre fully after the current agreement with ANUSA expires in 3 years, (b) establish an independent office that engages and funds specialised staff in providing and coordinating student support relating to sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus, and (c) further resource and fund existing services to ensure wait times for crisis and regular support are reasonable. All resources must be sensitive to and take into account the unique experiences of marginalised groups.
5. Agree to a Student Partnership Agreement with ANUSA and PARSA on sexual assault and sexual harassment
An ANU Student Partnership Agreement with ANUSA and PARSA, endorsed by ANU Council, must have the remit and resourcing capacity to allow student representatives to inform problem identification and the development of responses. Students need to be treated as equal partners, and their perspectives valued and considered in regards to this issue.