1 August 2017

The University of Queensland sincerely thanks all students who were involved in the Respect. Now. Always. survey.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said UQ would work with students and other partners to implement the recommendations put forward in the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report.

“An unacceptable number of students have experienced sexual harassment and/or sexual assault at UQ and at universities across Australia," Professor Høj said.

“The survey, commissioned by the leaders of Australia’s 39 universities, gives us a clearer picture than ever before of not only the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault, but also of the type of incident, the location of the incident and the perpetrators of the incident.

“This will strengthen the ability of universities, including UQ, to eradicate this terrible disrespect for the rights of individuals.

“As the report shows, this is a serious issue facing Australia’s universities and society as a whole.”

Professor Høj said the report distinguished between sexual assault and sexual harassment. 

“Sexual assault is one of the most serious crimes and the report indicates that about 1.6 per cent of students are sexually assaulted in a university setting nationally – there is only one acceptable number and that is zero.

“Similarly, the incidence of sexual harassment, which encompasses a range of behaviours that can also have a devastating impact on the survivor, is disturbingly high and must also be eliminated.

“There is no place for those unacceptable behaviours at university or in the wider society.

“At UQ, our response will centre on providing enhanced support for survivors and taking a strong stance on prevention.”

Professor Høj said that UQ had introduced a number of new initiatives that were consistent with the Australian Human Rights Commission’s recommendations, including:

  • working with the UQ Students’ Union to develop education and awareness campaigns to focus on prevention and appropriate responses to disclosure
  • launching a consent online training module to educate UQ students and staff on sexual assault and sexual harassment
  • establishing a Sexual Misconduct Support Unit – a specialist-trained unit where staff and students can access support, advice and counselling
  • establishing a First Responder Network to facilitate the disclosure of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and provide a safe and supportive environment for students and staff.

“We will also be introducing a comprehensive new policy and supporting procedures to address cases of sexual assault and harassment.

“Sexual harassment and assault is never the survivor’s fault, and will not be tolerated at UQ.

“To survivors, we are sorry that you’ve encountered this trauma at our university.”

The Respect. Now. Always. survey conducted in late 2016 received responses from more than 30,000 students across all 39 Australian universities. 

More than 1600 UQ students participated in the survey, with 1.1 per cent of UQ respondents reporting they had experienced sexual assault in a university setting in 2016 and/or 2015, and 28 per cent reporting they had experienced sexual harassment in a university setting in 2016.

“I understand the release of this report may be an extremely difficult time for many people, and I encourage anyone seeking support to contact the new UQ Sexual Misconduct Support Unit by emailing sexualmisconductsupport@uq.edu.au or phoning +61 7 3443 1000,” Professor Høj said.

The National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service has a 24/7 national hotline, 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

The Respect. Now. Always. national survey report is here. The UQ-specific report is here.  

For further information about reporting sexual assault and sexual harassment, and sources of support:

Media: communications@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 1120, +61 (0) 413 601 248.

Image: UQU President Gabii Starr and UQ Vice-Chancellor Peter Høj