Uni plan to end rampant sexual assault
AUSTRALIAN universities have been told to train all staff who deal with students as frontline responders capable of dealing with sexual assault victims.
A damning report on horror cases of sexual assault and harassment rampant in universities across Australia has sparked a raft of new stringent guidelines.
Universities Australia released the new measures after the alarming report released last year revealed one in five students from Australia's 39 universities was sexually harassed in 2016.
The guidelines recommend creating a stand-alone policy to address sexual assault and sexual harassment and include having a specialist-trained staff member as the single contact point for cases.
Universities should minimise the number of times a student needs to recount a traumatic experience and streamline arrangements for academic special consideration, it was recommended.
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said the guidelines were part of sector-wide action on sexual assault and harassment.
"Every student should feel - and be - safe, both on campus and in the wider community," she said.
"These guidelines are not intended to replace institutional approaches to dealing with these unacceptable behaviours, but rather provide further advice.
"These guidelines complement other major initiatives developed by the university sector as a whole and the hundreds of initiatives by individual universities over the past year alone."
They want trained staff to have the skills to respond to reports with compassion and make sure there are multiple ways to make a formal report, including through online reporting tools and safety apps.
"Many of these actions and policies are ones that universities already have in place or are actively considering," Ms Jackson said.
"We want every student to be supported through their trauma and recovery - and know that their safety and wellbeing will be at the centre of their university's response.
"Advocates and experts have been integral to this work. Without them, this work would not have been possible and we thank them for their crucial input."
Other recommendations include clearly communicating the university's formal reporting process and misconduct procedures, including time frames.
It was recommended students should have the option to report the incident to police, and the university would respect their decision.
Universities should also engage with colleges and residential halls, including those that are managed independently of the university to ensure consistency in responses, reporting and investigation approaches, the guidelines also suggested.