The Respect.Now.Always Advisory Committee held its first meeting of the year on 26 April.
The committee meets three times a year and its objective is to oversee the implementation of activities and projects across the university in relation to safety from sexual assault, sexual harassment and child protection, as approved by the Vice-Chancellor and President.
Name change for the committee
Following consultation with ACU students and Universities Australia, the committee resolved to change its name to the Safeguarding and Student Safety Advisory Committee. The new name resonates more clearly with students, staff and the broader community, and helps to raise awareness of the role of the committee. In line with this change, and to increase the clarity and accessibility of information for students and staff, it was resolved to revise wording used on the ACU public website and student portal by incorporating the words ‘sexual assault and sexual harassment’ when referring to the Respect.Now.Always. initiative.
National Student Survey results
The committee acknowledged the results of the 2021 National Student Safety Survey, which were released in March 2022. Whilst the results showed that the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment at ACU was below the national average, the committee acknowledged this is nothing to be complacent about. The results also showed that ACU students scored lower than the national average on knowledge of where to find support and how to make a report about sexual assault or sexual harassment. In response, the committee affirmed an even greater commitment to delivering high-quality education and training on what constitutes sexual assault and sexual harassment, where to seek support, and how to make a report – with targeted initiatives being developed for students the national survey identified as being most at risk.
Online reporting option
In February 2022, ACU introduced a centralised online reporting form to streamline reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and to promote greater accessibility, consistency, and transparency in reporting and access to support services.
Students can use the form to make a report, and staff can use the form to make a report regarding a student. The report form is accessible on the ACU public website and via the student portal.
Safety Support Network
In Semester 2 ACU will launch a new Safety Support Network of specially trained staff who will provide vital support to any student who has experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, family or domestic violence, inappropriate behaviour, or who is experiencing suicidal ideation. The Safety Support Network will also work to assist staff who are supporting a student.
ACU recognises that providing caring, non-judgemental support will help to improve the recovery of students who have experienced trauma, and will contribute to student retention.
Staff are invited to submit an expression of interest to join the Safety Support Network.
Complete the Expression of Interest form
External review of student accommodation
Last week an external reviewer, Student Life Research, delivered its report following an audit of ACU student accommodation in 2021 concerning prevalence and experience of sexual assault and sexual harassment amongst ACU student residents. The external reviewer was very impressed with the work undertaken by ACU in relation to its residences. The report made 13 recommendations, all of which have been accepted.
In February, ACU released its new Safeguarding Children, Young People and Adults at Risk Policy
and Procedure. This replaces the Protecting Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy and Procedure. The new policy and procedure ensure the university meets legislative standards. A new commitment statement is being developed to publicly confirm ACU’s commitment to protecting children, young people and adults at risk.