One in five students sexually harassed at Australian universities in 2016

By Amelia Dolling

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) recently released their National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities.

The report, undertaken by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, is based on data collected through a national survey conducted in late 2016. Each of Australia’s 39 universities took part, with over 30,000 students sharing their experiences.

According to the AHRC, one in every five students was sexually harassed in a university environment in 2016.

Women were almost twice as likely as men to have been sexually harassed within this context.

Unfortunately, a large majority of students who were sexually harassed at university chose not to say anything because they thought it didn’t matter, or they felt they didn’t need to make a fuss.

Ninety-seven per cent of students who were sexually harassed and 87 per cent of students who were sexually assaulted did not say a single thing to anyone at their university.

The report also provided information about who was perpetrating sexual assault and harassment at university.

Fifty-one per cent of students who were assaulted and 45 per cent who were harassed knew some or all of the perpetrators.

The findings of this report are based on survey answers from both young men and women.

Although women were found to have more frequently experienced sexual harassment or assault than men, young males were also victims of abuse, albeit at disproportional rates.

The Human Rights Commission collected data from more than 30,000 students on sexual harassment and assault from universities across the nation.

The commission has called for university senior officials to make a commitment to better improving responses to sexual harassment and assault and to combat the high assault rates at Australian colleges.

Universities Australia has also committed to creating a 24-hour national support line for students and the establishment of an educational program intended to teach students to be respectful toward student colleagues both on- and off-campus.

You can access the Commission’s official report here for further reading.

If you have experienced sexual harassment or assault and feel you would like to talk to someone for support, contact the Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line on 1800 737 732 or Beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

If you have experienced sexual harassment, you can also make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419.

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