Media Releases

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

31 Jul 17

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  (…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,