Media releases

MEDIA RELEASE: Low reporting rates of harassment must be addressed, says CAPA

7 Mar 19

Low reporting rates of harassment must be addressed, says CAPA

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) has called for improved policies and support for research students experiencing harassment at their university, in a submission to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces.

Low reporting rates of harassment incidents in universities reflect a lack of trust in reporting processes and outcomes. For research students and casually employed staff, reporting inappropriate behaviour can be a career-threatening move.

Research students face workplace harassment primarily through their role as casual staff as well as in rare but detrimental cases of inappropriate behaviour from their research supervisors.

We reiterate our call for universities to formally adopt the Principles for Respectful Supervisory Relationships, which state that intimate relationships between supervisors and their students are never appropriate due to the inherent power imbalance in this relationship, and that university policies must contain protections for students who report. We furthermore assert that universities must improve their training for staff and students on appropriate supervision behaviour.

Research students working as teaching or research staff at universities are almost always employed on a casual basis. Universities must end their insecure employment practices so that staff feel empowered to report workplace harassment.

Experiencing supervisor or workplace harassment should not be a career-ender.

“When women are given a safe environment to work in they will thrive and have a better chance at success. The current reporting procedures are falling short on expectations. Universities must have clearer and improved reporting guidelines for incidents that occur on and off campus and empower their staff and students to come forward when incidents occur,” says CAPA Women’s Officer, Romana-Rea Begicevic.

CAPA’s full submission can be downloaded here.

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For comment:
CAPA National President Natasha Abrahams
M: 0430 076 993
E: president@capa.edu.au