UNSW strengthens support for student safety and wellbeing

UNSW Sydney is building on measures to prevent sexual assault and harassment  while supporting those who have experienced these behaviours.


The UNSW campus.

Today marks 12 months since UNSW Sydney participated in the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment. The survey results and accompanying recommendations were a hallmark step in helping Australian universities address these unacceptable behaviours.

One year on, UNSW has built on existing measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its students and staff, implementing the nine recommendations of the AHRC Change the Course report. Some of the University’s initiatives include:

  • Conducting extensive face-to-face and online training for staff and students on the prevention of and responses to sexual misconduct.
  • Establishing an accredited First Responders network of staff members and student representatives across the University to ensure processes are compassionate, consistent and robust.
  • Developing a portal for staff and students to report sexual assault and sexual harassment, capturing de-identified information, with easy to find information on how to report and where to go for immediate and long-term support.
  • Completing an independent external review of UNSW’s policies and procedures around preventing and responding to sexual assault, sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour.
  • Launching UNSW’s Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Policy, developed in consultation with students, staff, accommodation providers, unions, and expert counselling and medical staff.
  • Implementing recommendations made in On Safe Ground: A Good Practice Guide for Australian Universities, UNSW’s Australian Human Rights Centre (now Institute) report.

For a complete list of UNSW initiatives read our response to the AHRC report.

UNSW’s Professor Eileen Baldry, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Inclusion and Diversity, said the sector is united in its resolve to prevent sexual assault and harassment and support those who have experienced these behaviours.

“Among our initiatives is compulsory training for our students living on campus. Developed in partnership with the Gendered Violence and Research Network, the training helps students understand what consent is and recognise and speak out against disrespectful behaviour,” Professor Baldry said.  

“We have a collective of powerful advocates from staff and student groups across the University and I thank them for their contributions to our policy and this enormous body of work.

 “Sexual misconduct is unacceptable at UNSW and we are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of every student, staff member and visitor to our campuses.”

The 2017 university-funded survey and new guidelines for university responses to sexual harassment and sexual assault, which were released in July 2018, form part of the Universities Australia 10-point Action Plan and the national Respect. Now. Always. initiative.

If this story raises any issues for you, or you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, sexual harassment or other sexual misconduct, help is available on the UNSW student website: student.unsw.edu.au/harassment.