The Talk About it survey questioned over 1500 women on their experiences of sexual assault and harassment, their perceptions of safety, the availability of information and services and their experiences of how well incidences were dealt with once reported.
The survey was developed in response to a need for national data on the issue following on from a series of incidents at residential halls and colleges in NSW and the ACT. It was open between September 2010 and March 2011 and initial findings released in March showed that 1 in 10 of the respondents had experiences sexual assault while at university and that more than 60% of women felt unsafe whilst on campus at night. These are on top of the national figures of 1 in 3 experiencing some form of physical violence during their adult life and 1 in 5 experiencing sexual violence.
The “Safe Universities Blueprint” forms part of the survey’s final report. It is a framework for tackling the issues outlined in the results of the survey. The recommendations were adapted from Australian best-practice, international initiatives and from suggestions from the youth, women’s and tertiary education sectors. In this way, NUS has been able to develop a consensus document that recognizes the various needs and experiences of everyone involved. The recommendations are aimed at both universities and students. This two-tiered approach acknowledges the roles and responsibilities of both groups in tackling such a pervasive and wide-spread issue.
One of the centre-pieces of the vision to end violence against women on campus is NUS’s partnership with the White Ribbon Foundation. This partnership will see campus White Ribbon groups set-up to challenge entrenched attitudes about women and violence towards them. White Ribbon along with Universities Australia and the Equality Rights Alliance have all endorsed the report.
The next step in this plan is to develop a centralized online resource that connects students to their university’s assault and harassment information and services. A short film able to be shown in introductory lectures or included in orientation packs will outline for all students what constitutes sexual assault and harassment before referring them to the website for further information. This project aims to address the lack of clarity around what assault and harassment are and to make the necessary information easy to access and understandable.
To download a copy of the report which includes the survey's results and recommendations, click here.