Australia: ‘many sex assaults' on overseas and LGBT students

President of the Australian Human Rights Commission says number of attacks on campus is 'seriously under-reported'

September 20, 2016
LGBT rainbow flag hanging outside university building
Source: Alamy

The president of the Australian Human Rights Commission said she is “shocked” by the "high number" of international and LGBT students reporting sexual assaults at Australian universities.

Early submissions to a student survey on sexual assault show that close to 13 per cent of responses have come from international students and 19 per cent from students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

The survey, commissioned by Universities Australia and managed by the Human Rights Commission, has so far received almost 400 submissions and reports of sexual assault have been received from students at 35 of 39 universities in the country.

Commission president Gillian Triggs said she suspected that older students would have been “more willing to share their experiences” but “there are very young women” who are “willing to write highly articulate accounts”.

"I have been shocked by the relatively high number of young international students and a disproportionately high number of LGBTI students who have reported assault," she said.

She added that almost all submissions have begun with the phrase “I have not reported this but...”

"This suggests these assaults are seriously under-reported and once students knew they could come to us it was like a dam bursting,” she said.

The study was launched after a survey by the Australian National Union of Students that found that 72.5 per cent of students experience some form of sexual harassment, although not necessarily on campus.

The commission will present recommendations to university vice-chancellors based on the results of the survey next year.

ellie.bothwell@tesglobal.com

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