ANU faces student pressure as universities audited over sexual assaults

ANU faces student pressure as universities audited over sexual assaults
ANU faces student pressure as universities audited over sexual assaults

Student associations at the Australian National University have accused the institution of dragging its feet in response to a report into sexual assault and harassment on university campuses.

But an audit by the Human Rights Commission has found the ANU has begun work to address all recommendations of a report released one year ago today.

The audit found similar progress at the University of Canberra (UC), which has also engaged former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick to further review its practices.

The Australian National University was singled out in the Human Right's commission's 2017 Changing the Course report, which found 3.5 per cent of students claimed were sexually assaulted on campus over a 12-month period.

Today, the ANU's two students associations have come together to release a second report critical of the university's pace in addressing the issue.

"What we're going to be asking for is the university to really step up their game in a significant number of areas, in particular better communication, resources and training for staff and students," Alyssa Shaw, from the ANU's Postgraduate and Research Student Association (PARSA) said.

"We've seen a lot of foraying into understanding what the issues are, but not a lot of substantive action that we can point to."

Photo Students say not enough has been done one year on.

ABC News: Dharshini Sundran

The HRC audit of universities across Australia found the ANU had moved to action each of the nine recommendations made in 2017, and pro vice-chancellor Richard Baker said the university's response had been swift.

"The vice-chancellor on August 1 last year, accepted all nine recommendations, and we've done everything we can to implement those as quickly as possible, but it's important we do that carefully and in a considered way," he said.

"We're doing everything we can to do things as quickly as possible, it's important we get things right and as part of that we've been working very quickly with student organisations."

Measures taken at the ANU since the report's release include further reviews into residences, and better training for staff and student leaders.

Second University of Canberra review underway

UC acting vice-chancellor Nick Klomp said the report from Ms Broderick, which commissioned by the university, would be released at the end of August.

"There's still plenty of action to be done," he said,

"Without going into any details … the draft that I've seen has got some really solid recommendations.

"How clear are your policies? Are they wrapped up in legalese? How clear are the reporting mechanisms?"

He said his key goal was to ensure on-campus culture was improved.

"Yes we've got fewer cases of harassment and assault at the University of Canberra, but it turns out … 94 per cent [of Australian students] said they wouldn't report harassment.

"That's the worst. That's actually the worst."

Get the latest news delivered to your inbox

Follow us on social media networks

PREV Melbourne's new Archbishop refusing to budge on confessional seal
NEXT American Assets Trust: 2Q Earnings Snapshot