I was horrified by the findings of the Human Rights Commission’s National Report on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities.
This afternoon I received a personal briefing on the issue from University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline McMillen. It is deeply disturbing that more than half of the University of Newcastle’s students have experienced sexual harassment in the past year.
These results clearly demonstrate deeply entrenched problems that must be addressed urgently.
I welcome the University of Newcastle’s decision to publically release the local data and acknowledge the grave seriousness of this problem without reservation.
I am pleased that the University has today launched a broad set of measures to prevent and address sexual harassment and sexual assault and I will be keeping a close eye on progress as they are rolled out.
As the lead education provider in our community, it is important that the university adopt a zero tolerance approach to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
I hope the university’s decision to face this issue head on will be critical in securing the cultural and institutional change that is now needed.
It doesn’t matter how or where sexual assault occurs. It is always a crime and it should be treated as such.
Universities should be a place of security and personal growth, not fear and intimidation.
If you need support, help is available
• National university support line: 1800 572 224 (From 31 July to 30 November 2017)
• 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732
• Lifeline: 131114
• Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636