'Unacceptable': Worrying results from CQU harassment survey


The national survey of 31,000 students across Australian universities revealed more than a half of students, 51%, were sexually harassed at least once a year ago.

A damning national survey has found that most sexual assaults at university are perpetrated at events like Orientation Week and often happen on a student's first day.

Women were nearly twice as likely to be sexually harassed and more than three times as likely to be sexually assaulted with 63 percent facing sexual harassment.

ANU Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt told the ABC the report provided an understanding of how sexual assault affects university students.

There is nothing to revel in having a few less sexual assaults or rapes than the university next door'.

The University of South Australia said it had a long-term, integrated safety and well-being approach created to protect students from sexual assault and harassment.

Damning new research has exposed the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment at Australia's universities.

Nationally, 1.6 per cent of respondents reported being sexually assaulted at university in 2015 and/or 2016.

"There are parts of the report that let us down", she said, citing an "over-representation of sexual harassment and under-representation of sexual assault" in the questioning which failed to grasp the severity of the problem of sexual assaults at universities.

Australian universities, which have more than one million pupils enrolled, are hugely popular with global students, particularly from China and India.

The Australian Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, said he had written to each university asking for their response to the survey and the plans for change.

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"We have improved online resources so students may more easily report incidents and can have confidence that we will act on any report.

And [we] will not accept hearing universities congratulate themselves on being slightly below the national averages", she said at the report's release. Meanwhile, 37 percent of people who witnessed another student being sexually assaulted did not take action.

"Girls were encouraged, nearly forced to drink, and I saw so many times unconscious girls carried to their bed by guys", one student said.

About half the students who responded to the survey knew the perpetrators, most of whom were male students.

More than 90 per cent of those harassed at all Victorian universities said they did not make an official report about their abuse. Ms. Duncan submitted a complaint to the commission about an accusation that she said forced her to drop out of the university.

"The apology that came today was not a real apology and they did not acknowledge that universities have been complicit", she said.

'Universities might say that this demonstrates that they aren't doing anything wrong, but that's not the case, ' Ellie Greenwood, an ambassador for End Rape on Campus Australia told Guardian Australia.

Monash University student Emma Hunt, who said she was raped in a wooden cabin at an orientation week camp in 2014, said she welcomed the show of transparency, but did not find the data surprising.

"These findings are of grave concern to me personally and I am committed to ensuring that we redouble our efforts to provide a safe and respectful environment for work and study for everyone at Flinders University", he said.

USC is one of 39 members of Universities Australia who have each received their own institutional report.