Wide Support for CAPA’s Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Recommendations

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is encouraged at the level of support already garnered for our plan to combat sexual assault at Australian universities. The 19 recommendations  (http://www.capa.edu.au/2017-sexual-assa…ights-commission/) were released in preparation for the release of the Human Rights Commission Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Survey that will be released tomorrow.

The recommendations ensure student participation in the development of a university sexual assault policy, provision of training for both staff and student leaders, as well as working towards a change in campus culture to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment.

So far CAPA has received statements and letters of support from Universities Australia, The Australian Council of Graduate Research, The Group of Eight, and the National Tertiary Education Union. It is a testament to the importance of this issue to see wide spread support for combating this issue.

As well as national support CAPA is also encouraged by the conversations that have already begun with Vice-Chancellors around the country. Professor Margaret Gardner from Monash University and Professor Dawn Freshwater from the University of Western Australia have both been in contact with CAPA and we are pleased to see that they are committed to working with students at all levels.

The next steps require support being made available to students where they are. This includes providing information on Universities Australia’s national hotline (1800 572 224) as well as information on campus for survivors who need support or need to report an incidence of sexual violence.

National President: Peter Derbyshire Says:

“It is encouraging to see that universities have already taken steps before the release of the survey results. One of our key recommendations was to prepare for the release through provision of support as well information on reporting.”

“We now want to see universities providing information to students where they are. Places like libraries and study centers as well as digitally are ideal because students can access the information at any time.”

“The release of the survey is an important step but what happens next is essential. Both nationally and at the campus level this is an issue for staff, students, and university management. By working together, we can make universities safer for everyone.”

Statements of support 

Universities Australia

Australian Council of Graduate Research
The Australian Council of Graduate Research Inc applauds CAPA for taking the initiative to prepare this report and set of recommended actions arising from the Human Rights Commission Survey of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault (SHASA) Survey.

The prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault in Universities requires universities to continue to review and improve their responses to this serious problem. ACGR is particularly committed to supporting our members as they work to improve the support structures in place for higher degree by research candidates and supervisors in response to the release of the SHASA Survey.

National Tertiary Education Union
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) welcomes and congratulates CAPA on this comprehensive set of recommendations which clearly draw upon the experience and expertise of CAPA delegates and leaders. This is a valuable contribution to concretely tackling the persistent and pernicious scourge of sexual harassment and assault in our universities. We note that these are also issues for university staff at several levels, a key one of which is how staff can more effectively play their part in tackling the issues in systematic and systemic ways, in collaboration with students and management. We look forward to working with university managements and students in making the needed changes. These recommendations will certainly inform those discussions and consequent actions.
Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President

For Comment: Peter Derbyshire, National President 0435 047 817, president@capa.edu.au


The enquiry into the Higher Education Legislation amendments has revealed the Federal Governments real policy when it comes to education in Australia and that is “We don’t care”. The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) had thought that it would be possible to work with the Minister for Education and Training on real reform to higher education instead we got this debacle.

The Minister for Education and Training has bragged that by 2020 per-student funding will be the lowest in 11-years under his government. It is a proud moment for a government whose favourite past-time is a jolly good game of “kick the young person”.

The Minister has also stated that universities can just “tighten their belts” when it comes to the $2.8billion that will be ripped from universities. A sentiment that CAPA notes is NOT extended to millionaires and multi-billion dollar corporations.

Australian universities are already heavily reliant on the international student market. Does the federal government really want an education system that is geared to international students only because Australian students aren’t worth the effort? Where has the desire to educate the nation’s young people because it is the RIGHT THING TO DO gone.

We are again urging all senators to come out against this so-called reform package so that something meaningful might take its place. It is time to do something real that will secure Australia’s future and the future for Australian students.

Peter Derbyshire, CAPA National President, said:
“We are not sure if the Federal Government wants to deliberately destroy Australia’s reputation as a research and education destination or perhaps they just hate Australian students but either way Australian students are going to lose out”.

“How disappointing is it that pre-election the government was all for a research and innovation revolution only to find out that it was all vote-grabbing stunts. Perhaps one day a Federal government will come along that recognizes the potential in Australia’s Universities and utilize it but I fear it is not this day.”

“We should give the Minister for Education and Training one thing though, through this proposal, he has united the sector better than his predecessor’s failure did”

For Comment: 
CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire 0435 047 817 president@capa.edu.au

Attachment: Submission to the penalty rates common matter by CAPA 2017

Overview – a degree is not optional

Educational attainment increasingly means the difference between being employed and being unemployed. As a result, more people than ever are enrolling in higher education, and even more will do so in the future. Students frequently work while studying in order to make ends meet, and are employed within the retail, hospitality, and fast-food sectors. Shifts in penalty rates have a significant financial impact on these students, as well as on their ability to succeed at university.

Changes to penalty rates are an issue for university students across Australia, including those undertaking postgraduate level qualifications such as Coursework Masters or Doctoral (PhD) degrees. The challenges facing these students are many, however, one key area requiring closer consideration is the relationship between postgraduates’ income support, work, and studies.

Work and study can be immensely stressful. While attending university can be a challenging and rewarding pursuit, short deadlines and long hours are common. Students that need to work while they study face additional challenges and stresses: financial, mental, and emotional.

This report presents information on penalty rates and their importance to postgraduate students. We make three key arguments:

  1. The diversity of the postgraduate student cohort means that postgraduates are impacted differently than undergraduates by a change in penalty rates.
  2. Postgraduate students are already struggling to balance the inflexible requirements of work and study. Changes to income streams such as penalty rates will make this even more difficult.
  3. Postgraduates in Australia are in need of better income support arrangements, in order to avoid the negative outcomes of penalty rate changes.

In order to support these arguments, we report on an exploratory study undertaken by CAPA. We collect a series of student case studies, focusing particularly on postgraduate beneficiaries of penalty rates who require them in order to continue their studies.

Welcome to the Postgrad Blog Space where stories are shared.

I noticed just how important and useful shared personal experiences could be to someone new to an environment or an educational system. Although this blog may provide some information about the writer’s personal experience, the aim is to capture what it feels like being a postgraduate living in Australia. It is a platform where students share thoughts, experiences and achievements as a student in Australia. Chances are that this will be a source of reference to someone or an inspiration to other students who read it. We also want to show authorities just how valuable and important postgraduates are .

The blog will be written by current postgrad studying in an Australian university or who recently graduated from an Australian university. The information provided on the blog will be raw contents by the contributors and only edited on the permission of the contributors.

The views expressed in the blog are those of the individual and should not be interpreted as that of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Association as an organisation.

-‘lola Ayeni Media Officer

Ahead of the release of the results from the National University Student Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) has launched a series of recommendations for reforms at Australian universities.

CAPA has formulated 19 recommendations with short, medium and long-term goals in order to meaningfully address this issue. These include

  • the provision of information to survivors, staff, and student leaders on how to deal with incidences of sexual assault;
  • clarification and consolidation of reporting procedures; and
  • initiatives aimed at changing the culture within universities through the strengthening of community standards.

A full list of recommendations can be found here

These recommendations provide real, and achievable reform that is focused on safety for all students on campus. Universities, which were sent a copy of these recommendations earlier this week, are being asked to demonstrate that they intend to take action to combat sexual assault and campus safety by signing on to these recommendations.

By agreeing to implement these recommendation, Australian universities reassure their students that they are being proactive in addressing this important ahead of the report’s release.

These recommendations come out ahead of the results of the sexual assault and sexual harassment survey performed by Universities Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission. The results are expected to be announced on August 1.

Alyssa Shaw, CAPA Women’s Officer, said:

“Universities that fail to act are creating a safe environment for perpetrators, not students.

“CAPA is calling on Vice Chancellor’s to show strong leadership on this issue by acting on these recommendations to ensure student safety, just outcomes and systemic cultural change.”

“We want Universities to be prepared to act quickly, which is why these recommendations also include immediate actions necessary before the survey release on 1 August.”

Peter Derbyshire, CAPA National President, said:

“Our recommendations are designed to provide a plan that ensures that Vice-Chancellors across the country can implement change in a progress and measured fashion.

“The recommendations are designed to ensure high levels of student consultation in the process of their implementation.”

“There is nothing within these recommendations that should be too difficult to implement if Vice-Chancellors truly want to show reform in this area.


For more information or to arrange interviews with CAPA representatives Alyssa Shaw and Peter Derbyshire, contact (0435 047 817) or (president@capa.edu.au).






Attachment: CAPA Recommendations SASH survey

CAPA Recommendations Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Survey Universities Australia/ Australian

Human Rights Commission


These recommendations have been created by the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) with input and consultation from both undergraduate and postgraduate student representatives, and with support from sexual violence specialists and publications, in order to respond to the upcoming release of the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Survey (SASH or the Survey). The SASH survey is a historic and meaningful step by Universities in Australia to acknowledge the prevalence and impact of sexual violence in our University communities. CAPA also praises the strong leadership of Vice Chancellor’s in engaging independent experts, in the form of the Australian Human Rights Commission, to undertake this survey. The need for evidence based, best practice solutions and support from specialists will be crucial to the work ahead.

CAPA has provided 19 recommendations that are critical in addressing this complex and systemic issue. These measures focus on three areas of prevention, as articulated by the National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence1:

  • Primary prevention: strategies utilised to mitigate problems before they occur
  • Secondary prevention: supporting those in our community who are at high risk through earlyidentification and intervention, for instance residential students and Higher Degree by

    Research Students

  • Tertiary prevention/ intervention: responses after sexual violence has taken place. Thisfocuses on ensuring safety and wellbeing, minimising the impact of violence, and preventing further violence.

    A primary responsibility of a universities is to ensure a safe and supportive learning environment for the pursuit of academic, professional and personal growth. Universities have a duty of care to all members of the University community: students, professional and academic staff.


List of support services

Here is a list of support services that can be accessed nationwide to provide support to survivors of sexual assault and their support people.

Australian Capital Territory

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre
Crisis Line: (02) 6247 2525
Email: crcc@rapecrisis.org.au

New South Wales

NSW Rape Crisis Centre
(02) 9819 6565

1800 424 017 (outside Sydney)

NSW Health Sexual Assault Services


Northern Territory

Sexual Assault Referral Services (SARC)

Alice Springs: (08) 8955 4500

Darwin: (08) 8922 6472

Katherine: (08) 8973 8524

Tennant Creek: (08) 8962 4100


Brisbane Rape & Incest Survivors Support Centre
(07) 3391 0004

Sexual Assault Help Line
1800 010 120

South Australia

Yarrow Place Rape & Sexual Assault Service

Free call: 1800 817 421

After hours and emergency: (08) 8226 8787


Sexual Assault Support Service

24 hour crisis line: 1800 697 877

Ph: 03 6231 1811

Email: admin@sass.org.au

Laurel House Launceston
Ph: (03) 6334 2740
Ph (After hours): 1800 697 877

Laurel House North West
Ph: (03) 6431 9711
Ph (After hours): 1800 697 877


Sexual Assault Crisis Line

Free call: 1800 806 292
Email: ahcasa@thewomens.org.au

Western Australia

Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC)
Crisis 24 hour: (08) 9340 1828
Country areas (free call): 1800 199 888



The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA) is glad to see the Labor party standing up for university enabling programs.

Enabling programs are being put at risk by the Higher Education Reform package in yet another move cost shift higher education to students. These essential programs allow Indigenous, regional, and mature aged students access to the preparation courses needed to succeed in university education. Both CAPA and NATSIPA are worried that shifting these courses to “user pays” will discourage many of these students from participation in tertiary education.

These programs are at risk of being out of reach for many students under the plan to attach fees to enabling programs under the higher education reform package. Such programs are essential to enable students that are not traditional entrance students. This includes mature aged students, regional students, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

“Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students enter university through pathways or enabling programs,” said NATSIPA President and Fulbright Scholar Sadie Heckenberg. “In fact I am one of those students who would not have had access to university without an enabling program. An enabling program that opened up a world of opportunity.”

“For Indigenous students across the country this further hurdle has the Federal Government saying we don’t want parity; we don’t want you having access to higher education. It has to stop. Not only are many potential students left feeling that they will not be able to access university, but programs have been put on notice and some universities have even halted employment for Indigenous academics teaching within these programs.”

Throughout the sector there is a concentrated effort to ensure an increase in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in Higher Education. How can this possibly be achieved when the entrance pathways become more difficult for disadvantaged students?

“1.6% of undergraduate university enrolments are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, however this percentage jumps to 6% for enabling programs,” says NATSIPA Vice President Dr Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, who is the program convenor of the Yapug enabling Program at UoN.

“Universities such as the University of Newcastle (UoN) lead the way in Indigenous education with over 1000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students undertaking higher education, 200 of these come through enabling programs, therefore accessibility of enabling courses is vital.”

It was argued that these students need to have some financial risk involved which is an absurd idea on the face of it. When potential students are leaving their families and communities to attend these courses then they already have plenty of financial risk.

“This step is just another way to gouge students for education,” said CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire. “a step that would not be needed if the Federal Government just did what Australia wants and funded Universities adequately.”


For Comment:

Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President M: 0435 047 817 president@capa.edu.au

Sadie Heckenberg NATSIPA President E: president@natsipa.edu.au



AttachmentImproving retention, completion and success in higher education.

Improving retention, completion and success in higher education Council or Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) Response to Higher Education Standards Panel Discussion Paper, June 2017

 Attached are the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations’ (CAPA) responses and recommendations relating to the Higher Education Standards Panel Discussion Paper on Improving Retention, Completion and Success in Higher Education. The Discussion Paper lists 12 questions to guide discussion(p. 9) that we have addressed each in turn.

Attaching postgraduate commonwealth support funding to students is a needed fix for the current patchwork system according to the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA).

Under the current system students are tied to certain institutions as funding for some courses is not extended sector wide. This measure is a way to ensure postgraduate students are provided with the same student choice that is available to undergraduate students. CAPA is also aware that a number of these postgraduate commonwealth supported places are not even fully utilized at some universities and we want to see this funding accessed by as many students as possible.

Both commonwealth support and income support for postgraduate coursework students is patchy at best. Students should not be tied to a university for fear of losing either form of support.
For three years CAPA has argued, in pre-budget submissions, that income support and commonwealth support needs to be extend to all postgraduate students in the same way that it is provided to undergraduate students.

The ultimate goals is to ensure commonwealth support and income support (through youth allowance and AuStudy) for all postgraduate coursework students. Until blanket coverage is achieved however, ensuring students won’t lose support if they change universities mid coarse is a step in the right direction.

“I understand that some universities are against this idea because they have built a curriculum around postgraduate courses being just short of a requirement,” said National President Peter Derbyshire. “The funding is there for students however, and no student should be forced to choose one institute over another just because funding for their course is only available at some universities.”

“To be clear our support for this measure does not mean we support the reform package. We will continue to fight this and any reform package that threatens universities, uses student fees to fix a government’s budget failings or violates fairness to students and graduates the way proposed changes to HELP does” said Mr Derbyshire.

For Comment:
Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President
M:0435 047 817
E: president@capa.edu.au