RNA anniversary: Swinburne continues to strengthen support

Support brochures on a table.

Swinburne has a zero tolerance approach to sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Two years after results from a university-funded national student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment were released, Swinburne continues to improve safety and support initiatives for students and staff.

Following the release of the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) survey results in August 2017, Swinburne formed a Respect.Now.Always. (RNA) Taskforce. It included Swinburne students and staff and lead the implementation of all nine AHRC recommendations.

“Swinburne is continuing its zero tolerance approach to sexual assault and sexual harassment,” says Vice-Chancellor Professor Linda Kristjanson AO.

“Working closely with experts within and outside of the Swinburne community has allowed us to further strengthen our efforts to prevent incidents, change the culture and offer support when needed.

“I am pleased to see these efforts embedded into our culture, and to have our students and staff taking the lead on initiatives such as the ‘Be a Better Human’ campaign and the Family Violence project.”

Independent review

In 2018, Swinburne’s RNA Taskforce enlisted PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent review of activities and guide the university’s response.

Key initiatives the RNA Taskforce has implemented include:

  • extending MATE bystander training to empower participants to be better bystanders and leaders in the prevention of gender-based violence and continuing to offer other training and guidelines to help staff support students who report sexual assault and sexual harassment
  • ensuring transparency of reporting of incidents, including publishing results and progress online regularly
  • making reporting easier by introducing anonymous reporting options
  • developing clear and accessible guidelines for students around what the incident reporting process involves
  • developing relationships and regularly communicating with local nightlife venues frequented by students
  • updating Swinburne’s formal documentation to formalise the processes and controls aimed at reducing risks during off-site trips

Be a Better Human campaign

This year, Swinburne students have led a ‘Be a Better Human’ campaign to promote consent and respectful behaviour.

The campaign was started by students at Flinders University in Adelaide, in response to the National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities.

Swinburne is the first university in Victoria to launch their own campaign and other major universities are following suit.

Maintaining momentum

Swinburne’s more recent efforts build on initiatives developed in 2017.

A mandatory ‘Consent Matters’ training module for student cohorts was introduced for campus residents; advocates; club committee members; leadership volunteers; and clubs, sports team and overnight trip participants.

Swinburne also continues to strengthen its sexual assault and sexual harassment resources. This includes through on-campus health services at all three Melbourne campuses, making free counselling available to all students, and offering options for online and anonymous reporting.

Sexual assault and sexual harassment support services information for students is available via Safer Community.

/University Public Release. View in full here.