I want to thank every student who responded to the National Student Safety Survey. Your contribution helps us make change, recognise where well-intentioned measures may have fallen short and see where there are meaningful signs of progress and change.
Any instance of sexual harassment or sexual assault is one too many. We acknowledge what survivors have endured and how those incidents may have affected their relationships, mental health, studies, and lives.
Charles Sturt University renews its pledge to those survivors, its present and future students, and to its wider communities, to take every available measure to eliminate sexual assault or sexual harassment. We believe every person who attends university has the right to be safe and to be treated with respect, dignity and fairness.
In addition to extensive reporting and counselling options for survivors, including around-the-clock hotlines, the University has in place a wide range of measures aimed at preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment, including education and training programs for staff and students and security personnel in place on all our campuses.
Unfortunately, these measures are not yet 100 per cent effective, just as they are not 100 per cent effective in Australian society, and regional Australia in particular, where the prevalence of sexual crime is higher still. But we promise to continue working with the goal of eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment entirely.
As a university, our core purpose is to educate. Reporting systems and counselling services are important, but education and culture change are key to eliminating sexual assault and sexual harassment. It is not enough that survivors learn how to protect themselves, rather it is critical that those who perpetrate sexual harassment or sexual assault understand that this behaviour is unacceptable.
We have already started delivering a series of workshops to residential student leaders and cohorts of students. These workshops are teaching students how to: ensure consent; have a confidential conversation; report sexual misconduct; be safe on campus; and call out harassment.
It is part of our role to educate our students to conduct themselves in respectful and inclusive ways. If we can do this better, we will not only improve the safety of our students but help tackle this problem in our communities and across Australia.