Australia’s universities to release sexual assault data

All higher education institutions agree to make figures from nationwide survey publicly available

April 11, 2017
Australian police car

All of Australia's universities have confirmed that they will publicly release data about sexual assault and harassment on their campuses by the middle of the year.

The collective decision by 39 vice-chancellors follows criticism of plans to withhold the number of assaults recorded at each institution from the public results of a survey of students on the issue, The Australian reported.

Universities Australia, the sector’s representative body, secured the commitment from its members on 5 April in what Barney Glover, the group’s chair and vice-chancellor of Western Sydney University, called “an incredibly important step”.

The survey canvassed the opinions of 39,000 students and also received 2,000 submissions from people who had suffered sexual assault or harassment at university. It was conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said the commissioning of the survey reflected vice-chancellors’ commitment and determination to address and prevent sexual assault and harassment.

“It should come as no surprise that all universities will release their institutional data,” Ms Robinson said. “University leaders wanted the survey to guide further improvements in how to prevent and respond to sexual assault and harassment, and support survivors. Sexual violence is a community-wide problem and university leaders are stepping up to the challenge.”

Individual university data will be released at the same time as the national report, which the commission said would be ready by the middle of the year.

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Reader's comments (1)

When you have 500 official complaints of sexual assault and harassment made to universities in the past 5 years resulting in only 6 expulsions (as reported to the AU Human Right Commission), it is likely that something is not right with the system. How valid are these allegations? It's important that both students and personnel are properly informed of what really constitutes sexual assault. Are the elements really in there ( A survey of students may yield very insightful results but data could be misleading if they do not really have an accurate understanding of sexual assault.


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