In The Media

Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

ANU to overhaul sexual violence policies after student hall review Canberra Times, 14th December 2018

The Australian National University will overhaul its sexual violence policies after an independent review found students were unhappy with how incidents were handled and student leaders were struggling under the high demands of offering pastoral care to peers living on campus.

The audit into ANU student halls, which was released late on Thursday, did note a positive culture within many residences with overall high levels of satisfaction among those surveyed as new policies and training around sexual violence were rolled out across the Canberra university.

It also found little evidence of hazing despite earlier incidents revealed in the media, backing sexual violence prevention strategies put in place by the university since the release of a landmark survey of the sector in August 2017.

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Uni Action WIN News Canberra, 1st August 2018

A year since a report detailing sexual assault and harassment across the nation's universities was released - institutions in the ACT have shown how they've tried to combat the issues. 

Despite progress being made, some students still feel that not enough has been done.

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University sexual assault: ANU faces student pressure as universities audited Canberra Times, 1st August 2018

Student associations at the Australian National University have accused the institution of dragging its feet in response to a report into sexual assault and harassment on university campuses.

But an audit by the Human Rights Commission has found the ANU has begun work to address all recommendations of a report released one year ago today.

The audit found similar progress at the University of Canberra (UC), which has also engaged former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick to further review its practices.

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Anger over high rates of sexual harassment on Uni campuses ABC Radio, 1st August 2018

There's still visceral anger on some university campuses over rates of sexual harassment, despite an audit by the Human Rights Commission finding what it calls encouraging progress in tackling the problem.

It's been 12 months since the Human Rights Commission’s “Changing the Course” report, which revealed that half of the university students it had surveyed, had been sexually harassed in the previous year.

Since then, universities have introduced hundreds of new measures to try to protect their people but student groups say the violence and harassment continues.

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ANUSA and PARSA hold protest, vigil and releases report one year after AHRC Report Woroni, 1st August 2018

1 August 2018 marks one year since the AHRC Report into Sexual Assault and Harassment on Australian University campuses was released. ANUSA and PARSA held a joint protest, vigil for survivors and released a report titled ‘Surveys but No Service’.

The protest was held in front of the Chancelry, where it was held on the same day last year. It featured a gamut of moving speakers who shared their experiences and perspectives of sexual harassment and/or assault, and the shortfalls of the University’s responses to the report.

The speakers levelled criticism at the University for failing to enact meaningful change and its “institutional mishandling of [survivors’] experiences”. They stated that the process of disclosure of sexual violence is still “depressing and exhausting” and that it was “torture” to “recount [their] story over and over again”.

The protest was capped off in a moment of solidarity and vigil in which 116 candles were placed for the 116 counts of sexual assault experienced by ANU students in 2016.

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"Every day that progress is delayed, more students are harmed": one year on from the AHRC report ANU Observer, 1st August 2018

Students today expressed their frustration and stood in solidarity with survivors at a Speak Out and vigil, one year after the the Human Rights Commission’s ‘Change the Course’ report was handed down. ANUSA and PARSA released statements criticising the “extremely slow” progress since the release of the report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at universities.

“We are here today protesting that the University has done very little”, said ANUSA President Eleanor Kay at the Speak Out. The sentiment was repeated by a number of speakers, many of whom recounted their own experiences of sexual violence. Attendees heard of cases in which residential administrations were non-responsive for months, where offenders were not removed from survivors’ halls of residence, and of ‘warnings’ rather than action against offenders.

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Some survivors left under same roof as their attackers, students say Sydney Morning Herald, 1st August 2018

Students say some survivors are being left under the same roof as their alleged attackers a year after a landmark report into sexual violence sparked reforms at universities across the country.

At the Australian National University in Canberra, a student who reported her sexual assault six months ago said she still lives in the same residential hall as the alleged offender, walking the same path to class, even sharing a kitchen.

After two months of silence from the university administration regarding the outcome of her case, she said she now feels like an abandoned child.

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One year on from report into sexual assault on campus, what's changed? Canberra Times, 31st July 2018

Her emails went unanswered. So did the phone number listed on the website. Eventually, she told strangers on Facebook what happened.

She had been sexually assaulted and she needed help.

This is the story of just one survivor at the Australian National University. But, a year on from the landmark report into sexual violence that sent shockwaves through Australian universities, student associations and advocates warn many still face barriers to reporting.

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ANU sets up new unit to tackle sexual harassment and abuse on campus Canberra Times, 5th July 2018

A new central management hub to coordinate the Australian National University's response to sexual violence will be set up on campus in the coming months.

The university revealed the 'Respectful Relationships Unit' would operate on a budget of $660,000 a year and seek to employ about five staff trained in case management, policy development, education and training, along with a communications and administration officer.

Pro-vice chancellor of university experience Richard Baker said the ANU was about to launch an international search for the unit's manager, who will take charge of the ANU's  much-awaited plan on sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention.

"We want the best person in the world at this," he said.

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Home is where the heartbreak is Woroni, 18th February 2019

PARSA is once again campaigning for equitable housing for ANU postgraduate students, amidst changing infrastructure and new data.

The Home Away From Home campaign, which also ran in O-Week of 2018, considers the nuances of homelessness among postgraduate students. The timing of the campaign is not random. 2.5 per cent of postgraduate students experience homelessness when they first arrive in Canberra. When surveyed, 8.6 per cent of postgraduate students did not have secure housing.

The campaign continues despite the ANU ceding to some of PARSA’s demands. It will implement a first year postgraduate Accommodation Guarantee from 2021, and Fenner Hall’s South Wing is being re-purposed to provide postgraduate housing from this year.

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'Always in the back of your mind': Rental price a stress for Canberrans Canberra Times, 10th January 2019

For Varun Nair, Canberra's expensive and competitive rental market has been a constant source of stress since he arrived in Australia in 2017.

Mr Nair, 24, has been knocked back by landlords, spent numerous nights on friend's couches and bounced around to different properties as he struggled to find stable and affordable accommodation while completing his studies.

"Being a student, and having no source of income, the cost of rent is always at the back of your mind," said Mr Nair, who is about to start the final semester of his masters of engineering in renewable energy at Australian National University.

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ANU postgraduate students' struggle with housing Woroni, 28th August 2018

“I flunked in two of my initial quizzes. I didn’t have time to study as I was going for inspections. I went for more than 30 inspections and tried everything that I could. It’s still affecting my studies… It is constantly at the back of my mind” says M.S, an international student who started his masters degree in July this year. M has found temporary accommodation till the end of November but could be homeless if the landlord finds out about him living in the house. “I’m living in a nearby suburb in the basement of a house with a family. I have a verbal agreement with them, there’s nothing on paper. They are tenants themselves and have told me that I’d have to leave at any point of time if the landlord finds out” he says.

M.S is one of many students at ANU who have been through homelessness. 9% of the ANU postgraduate student population are homeless or at risk of homelessness according to the PARSA survey released earlier this year.

Last month, ANU announced its commitment to offer postgraduate students a guarantee of accommodation in their first year of arrival from 2021 onwards. Despite the announcement, a  group of postgraduate students slept by the Chancelry to protest student homelessness.

“I have been homeless myself and I have couch surfed. And I’ve grown up in Canberra … I get how stressful it is”, PARSA President Alyssa Shaw stated as she reflected on her own homelessness experience.

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ANU students sleep by Chancellery as homelessness looms over O-week Canberra Times, 27th July 2018

They laid out the sleeping bags in sight of the vice-chancellor's office.

Week one festivities were winding down at the Australian National University but these students weren't going home. On Friday night, as their breath fogged in the dark, a dozen or so gathered in protest and in solidarity with their peers sleeping rough.

While the university has one of the highest percentages of students living on campus, it also has a shortfall of beds. Grand plans are underway to build more, mostly for undergraduates, but students say urgent intervention is needed to address a postgraduate housing crisis already playing out on couches, in cars and tents, even at the ANU library.

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PARSA survey shows ANU postgraduates struggle with housing Canberra Times, 14th February 2018

Unscrupulous landlords are taking advantage of postgraduate students desperate for a home, according to the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students' Association.

A survey conducted by the association found 57 per cent of respondents didn't have accommodation secured before their arrival in Canberra. More than 50 per cent of those people took at least a month to find a home.

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Why are all those tents pitched on campus? Woroni, 14th February 2018

You might have seen the tents around campus – our postgraduate student body, PARSA, are raising awareness for postgraduate homelessness.

The protest coincides with the release of PARSA’s Home Away from Home report, which highlights the challenges postgraduates face in the hunt for permanent accommodation.

According to the survey, nine per cent of ANU’s postgraduate community were homeless or at risk of homelessness at the time they filled out the survey. 29 per cent found the experience of obtaining accommodation in Canberra “bad” or “terrible”. And it’s worse for international students – only one third of them were likely to have secured accommodation by the time they arrived in Canberra. 

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Third of postgrads lack permanent housing one month after moving - report The ANU Observer, 14th February 2018

Many postgraduates lack permanent housing months after arriving at ANU, according to a report conducted by the ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA). The Association has called for a first year accommodation guarantee.

The report, called Home Away from Home was released on Wednesday the 14th of February. More than 700 students were surveyed on their experiences finding housing in Canberra, and found that 57% of students had no arrangements before arriving in the ACT, and that 9% of respondents were currently homeless or at risk of homelessness. 43% of these students took between one and two months to find a home, and 13% were homeless for over two months. In the meantime, students described having to stay with family, friends, or sleep overnight in ANU’s libraries.

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Student parents breast-feeding in toilets, missing classes: survey Canberra Times, 18th May 2018

A new survey by the ANU's post-graduate and research student association, PARSA, paints a bleak picture of life on campus for students juggling study and parenting.

Out of 81 postgraduate respondents, 73 per cent rated university support for parents as very poor to average. While some shared stories of supportive lecturers allowing children in tutorials, many said they were routinely forced to miss class altogether, had been priced out of childcare on campus and could not find family-friendly student accommodation.

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PARSA Petition Debated in ACT Legislative Assembly Woroni, 25th March 2019

On Thursday the 21st of March, The ACT Legislative Assembly convened to debate the PARSA petition that aims to save the Number 3 bus route. The route commonly used by students was slated for removal following the release of the finalised 2019 bus routes on Tuesday the 16th of October, 2018.

The petition will now be presented to the Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services.

In response to the route’s removal, PARSA voiced their concerns as to the impact this could have on Postgraduate students. Most notably, PARSA specified that “international students, low SES students and students with disabilities” would be among those most affected. PARSA additionally outlined that for these students, the Number 3 route was the only means of transportation to one of Canberra’s two major hospitals, both of which lie on the number 3 route.

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More than 1100 people call on government to keep university bus route Canberra Times, 23rd March 2019

More than 1100 students have called on the ACT government to reinstate a bus route that travels through the Australian National University, amid fears a lack of transport would make it difficult for students to travel to and from the campus.

Disability advocates have also raised concerns about cutting the route, which travels between Belconnen and Woden and services the Canberra Institute of Technology campus at Bruce and the Calvary hospital.

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ANU students angry after government scraps campus bus Canberra Times, 5th November 2018

The ANU Postgraduate and Research Student Association president Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope said it was "completely unacceptable" for the ACT government "to ignore significant community concerns and build further barriers to accessibility for already vulnerable students”.

He said women and LGBTIQA+ students, and students with disabilities as particular groups who would be vulnerable under the change.

Students had been given no specific reason for the bus change, he said.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris said the government had consulted in 2017 with the ANU, including with the undergraduate student association. Ms Fitzharris made no mention of consulting the post-graduate students group.

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SSAF debate reignites over funding of essential student services Woroni, 10th January 2019

The debate over the value of SSAF has been reignited by Liberal Senator James McGrath. The Senator has announced a private members bill to abolish the fee which provides essential student welfare and cultural services.

The Senator has a long-running disagreement with SSAF funding, and believes it contravenes freedom of association as understood in the Workchoices legislation.

In a recent Facebook post he stated ‘The SSAF is unfair, unpopular, undemocratic, unnecessary, burdensome, politicised and wasteful.’ He also linked SSAF to factional infighting of student organisations.

President of PARSA, Zyl Hovenga-Wauchope summarised the bill as “just another thoughtlessly ideological attack on students from a member of a party that consistently demonstrates their disregard for student wellbeing.”

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Australian National University
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