Safeguarding and student safety updates

ACU’s trauma-informed approach to student safety continues with a policy and procedure review, a guide for staff on how to support students through a disclosure, and new student initiatives.

ACU launched its revised and improved Student Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response policy and procedure at the start of the year. As part of continuous best practice initiatives, the improved documents were developed based on benchmarking and consultation which took place during 2022.

The updated policy and procedure state that when a student discloses that they have experienced sexual harm, the university will respond with a trauma-informed and strengths-based approach. This emphasises physical, psychological and emotional safety for everyone involved and seeks to minimise trauma, distress and any other risks to wellbeing.

Other key improvements include:

  • clear definitions of terms including consent, sexual harassment and sexual assault
  • more information about where students can receive support
  • where a sexual misconduct allegation has been made against an ACU student, clear guidance about the external investigation process and improvements to student discipline processes.
Online report form improvements

Improvements have also been made to ACU’s online report form. Students can use the form to report experiences of sexual assault, sexual harassment, family and domestic violence, and other forms of sexual harm. On the form:

  • students can provide their contact details and receive support, or they can report anonymously
  • students can provide further personal information so that ACU can better support their needs, for example:
    • I am Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
    • I identify as LGBTIQA+
    • I am an international student
    • I am a domestic student
    • English is not my first language
    • I have a temporary or ongoing health condition
    • I have significant carers responsibilities
    • I am a parent or I care for a child/children
    • I live in a rural, regional or remote area

If a staff member completes the form on behalf of a student, Safeguarding and Student Safety staff will reach out to the staff member to ensure they are well supported in helping the student.

New staff guide on responding to disclosures

A new staff guide on responding to disclosures of sexual harm is available. The guide is designed to assist staff in understanding ACU processes and what to say if a student discloses that they have experienced sexual harm or family and domestic violence.

Safety Support Network

In June 2022, ACU launched the Safety Support Network as part of the university’s ongoing commitment to supporting students who have experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment, or family and domestic violence. The Safety Support Network is a group of ACU academic and professional staff, known as Safety Support Officers, who undertake specialised training that focuses on receiving, responding to and understanding the sensitive and complex nature of disclosures of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and family and domestic violence.

Staff are trained on the psychological, physiological and behavioural effects on victim-survivors and how best to support them through a range of support and reporting options at ACU and externally.

Congratulations to the new Safety Support Officers who have completed their training this semester. ACU now has 51 trained Safety Support Officers. Information on who staff can contact on their campus to assist in supporting a student through a disclosure can be found on the Safety Support Network website.

Respectful Relationships module

In February 2023, ACU launched a compulsory online respectful relationships module for students. The module seeks to raise student awareness of ACU’s expectations regarding healthy relationships, safety and consent, and provides information on where to seek support.

Commencing students are required to complete the module prior to the release of results for their first semester or teaching period at ACU. If the module is not completed in time, a student’s results will be withheld until they complete the module.

Access more information

If you are interested in finding out how to provide the module to students who commenced at ACU prior to 2023, please contact the Safeguarding and Student Safety team,

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