CSU acts to keep students safe


Monday 31 Jul 2017

More than 800 Charles Sturt University (CSU) students have responded to a national Human Rights Commission survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.

CSU Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann has welcomed the release of the national report and thanked everyone that participated in the survey as it has provided valuable information for the University to act on immediately.

"The survey and its findings are critical to raising the profile of the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities," Professor Vann said.

"Importantly, Charles Sturt University acknowledges that behind the data are individuals who are survivors and victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment. They are in the forefront of our minds as we work to ensure the University is a safe and respectful place to study and learn."

Eighteen per cent of the 803 Charles Sturt University survey participants had been sexually harassed at university and 3.3 per cent had been sexually assaulted at university in 2015/2016.

"This behaviour is unacceptable. Sexual assault is a crime and we will be redoubling our efforts to reduce these numbers through a broad range of initiatives," Professor Vann said.

The Commission provided nine recommendations to universities for reform and further work to improve the prevention of and response to sexual assault and sexual harassment in Australian universities.

Charles Sturt University will be adopting all the Commission's recommendations.

Professor Vann said, "Charles Sturt University is already addressing the majority of these through a number of key initiatives such as the roll-out of first responder training to staff to improve their ability to respond and support students who disclose sexual assault or sexual harassment."

Over 100 key front-line CSU staff have completed this online training, Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence. This is designed to give staff the information they need to provide the support and assistance to a sexual assault survivor who is reporting an incident to them.

 All staff will complete this training by 2018.

In addition, CSU has established the Sexual Assault Resource Group (SARG) as a key contact point for all staff if they receive a sexual assault or sexual harassment report. Its main aim is to act as a resource for other staff to whom disclosure has occurred.

New protocols have also been developed by CSU for staff to respond to a disclosure of sexual assault from students including current, recent or historic allegations.

For students, the online training, Consent Matters will be available soon and all students are encouraged to complete this training. It will be compulsory for students who are employed by CSU or take up leadership or volunteer roles such as ambassadors or student representative council.

For students attending the University's campuses, CSU Safe provides instant access to around-the-clock campus security, offering options for urgent assistance, requesting a call back from security, or requesting a security escort. Staff can also notify security if they are working out-of-hours.

The University has a dedicated website providing access to information, resources and support contacts for students, staff and the community.

Professor Vann said, "We also know from the results that a high number of incidents go unreported. Increasing reporting is very important to Charles Sturt University so that we can support victims and work to build a culture of respect.

"We have zero tolerance for sexual violence.  The Charles Sturt University community will support and protect the well-being of any victims or survivors," Professor Vann said. 

The University offers free counselling support for students through its Division of Student Services. Where appropriate students can be referred to specialised sexual assault services in the community, while providing assistance through CSU channels where appropriate.

Important contacts and support:

-         In an emergency, students should call Triple Zero (000).

-         Dial '400' from any internal CSU phone for Campus Security, 24-hours a day.

-         Register with the Campus Security System, CSU Safe by texting the student's campus to 0409 513 136, and save the link to their home screen for urgent help, call back or security escort requests.

-         Urgent CSU Counselling on 1800 961 991

-         Access CSU Counselling by making an appointment through the Student Portal 

-         Contact National Universities 24/7 Support Line on 1800 572 224

-         Contact NSW Rape Crisis for 24-hour crisis counselling on 1800 424 017

-         Contact 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732 for 24-hour support

-         Visit CSU's Respect. Now. Always. dedicated site here

-         Lodge a CSU Complaint to the University Ombudsman by email ombudsman@csu.edu.au or telephone (02) 6933 4259 (see CSU Complaints Policy)

-         Confidential free, short term counselling services for staff are available through the Employee Assistance Program 1300 361 008 (24 hours).

The CSU-level data from the Human Rights Commission's national university student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment is publicly available through the CSU site here.


ends

Media contact: Fiona Halloran , (02) 6933 2207

Media Note:

CSU Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann will be available for interview at 12.15pm Tuesday 1 August 2017, at The Grange, building 1205, near car park 1, CSU in Bathurst. Contact CSU Media's Fiona Halloran on (02) 6933 2207 or 0439 475 315.