Policy Submissions

CAPA & NATSIPA’s Joint consultation submission to TEQSA’s Sexual harm good practice note

3 Aug 23

Download: CAPA & NATSIPA Joint consultation submission to TEQSA’s Sexual harm good practice note

Before the COVID pandemic changed the world, the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment on campuses was a prominent discussion point in tertiary. The Universities Australia’s Respect Now Always initiative, launched in 2016 aimed to: prevent sexual violence in university communities and improve how universities respond to and support those who have been affected. An independent oversight body to address the SASH crisis on campus was on the verge of being announced until the abrupt end of the Turnbull government in 2018. There was little bearing to why the initiative was shelved by the incoming Morrison government leaving the issues with TEQSA and instead saw ‘freedom of speech’ as a more pressing crisis on campuses.

Three years later, the 2021 National Student Safety Survey revealed little progress has been
made when compared to the 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission report.2

In an article recently reported in The Saturday Paper now claims Universities Australia has abandoned their respectful relationships campaign due to the objections of a minority of Vice-Chancellors of Australian universities at a time when further action is needed.

It is our view that shelving the independent oversight body was poor policy by the Morrison government and in light of the recent University Accords interim report, universities have been given ‘a fair go’ at addressing these issues with minimal intervention from TEQSA. It is time we see greater oversight from an independent body whether through a reformed TEQSA, Ombudsman or a tertiary education commission equipped for the task.

Our response to the discussion paper to updating this document will address the postgraduate student’s perspective of how the current good practice note can be improved to meet the demands of a rapidly changing higher education system. We hope to see the good practice note be updated more dynamically as a living document which will be amended more regularly as necessary but more importantly to see it enforced by a regulatory body.


  1. Appoint an independent ombudsman within the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s
    office to handle sexual harassment/violence complaints for the sector
  2. That Universities Australia immediately reinstate the consent program and make
    it compulsory for all students.