Policy Submissions

One year on from the Changing the Course report: Postgraduate students’ requests to universities

31 Jul 18

Download: One year on from the Changing the Course report: Postgraduate students’ requests to universities

The 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission report, Changing the Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities , provided a comprehensive look at the extent and nature of sexual violence at Australian university campuses. Among postgraduate students, 45% reported being sexually harassed, and 5% reported being sexually assaulted, in the year prior to the survey. One in ten postgraduate students who were sexually harassed at university reported that the perpetrator was a tutor or lecturer from their university. Postgraduate students were four times as likely as undergraduate students to be harassed by a colleague when working at the university, and three times as likely to be harassed by a supervisor as part of a work placement.

One year on from the release of the Changing the Course report, we call on universities to urgently act on the following six demands in order to prevent and address sexual violence in university communities:

  1. Provide adequate funding for counselling services to have specialised staff and reasonable waiting periods, including same-day sessions for students in crisis;
  2. Allow former students to access their usual on-campus counselling if they withdraw from studies for mental health reasons;
  3. Monitor incidents at on-campus residences and university-affiliated colleges, and sever relations with colleges which fail in their duty of care to students;
  4. Develop a policy disallowing romantic/sexual relationships between supervisors and research students;
  5. Implement mandatory training on ethical supervision for all staff that are research supervisors; and
  6. Consult with postgraduate student representatives in the development of materials and policies relating to the sexual assault and harassment on campus, recognising that research students are particularly vulnerable due to the student/supervisor relationship.