The NSW Labor Opposition has pledged to work with all stakeholders to address the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Change the Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities.
Labor has taken a bipartisan approach to ensure that the voices of more than 30,000 Australian students who responded to the Commission’s survey are clearly heard, and is calling on the Government to act on all fronts to prevent sexual assault and harassment on campus – including by: facilitating reporting, providing better services to victims and reducing recidivism by perpetrators.
NSW Labor has already committed to introducing respectful relationships training for all students from kindergarten to year 12, before they go to university. A NSW Labor Government will also join “Our Watch”, a joint Commonwealth-State initiative established to drive nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that underpin and create violence against women and their children. (NSW is the only State or Territory in Australia which has not joined Our Watch).
Labor has previously called on the Government to facilitate faster take down orders of intimate images in its Crimes Amendment (Intimate Images) Bill, and has also been investigating legislative changes to address governance issues in residential colleges.
Labor has also been calling on the Government to finalise the NSW Sexual Assault Strategy, particularly to ensure more resourcing for sexual assault services - with victims of sexual assault having to wait too long for forensic examinations - as well as making public transport safer, encouraging higher reporting levels to police and developing appropriate responses to emerging issues such as “stealthing”.
Labor urges students who have not yet had their say on the NSW Sexual Assault strategy to do so before the public consultation closes at midnight on Tuesday 8 August 2017. The link is here: https://www.nsw.gov.au/improving-nsw/have-your-say/nsw-sexual-assault-strategy/
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for the Prevention of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Jenny Aitchison
“Enough is enough. Labor will work with all stakeholders to ensure that whatever action governments can take to reduce sexual assault and sexual harassment is taken.
“Lack of respect for women, for people with disabilities, for people in the LGBTI community, Indigenous people, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities doesn’t just arise in university.
“Governments have a role to play in building a respectful society, where everyone is safe from sexual violence.
“A Labor Foley Government will join Our Watch and deliver respectful relationships education from an early age.
“I thank all students who have shown the bravery to speak out against sexual assault and sexual harassment. Your courage will provide a safer path for students in the future.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Women Sophie Cotsis
“This is not just a university problem; students are most likely to be sexually harassed on public transport. The Government is not doing enough to keep students safe, especially women.
“Students from non-English speaking backgrounds are 23 per cent more likely to be sexually harassed. We need targeted action to protect culturally and linguistically diverse students.
“University students with a disability are 36 per cent more likely to experience sexual harassment. A third of all students with disability were sexually harassed in 2016. The Berejiklian Government must act.”
Quotes attributable to Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Jo Haylen
“The results of this report are truly horrifying. They tell a story that women in universities know all too well: sexual assault and harassment is an epidemic in universities and residential colleges.
“Australian universities must act immediately to reform their sector. This epidemic has occurred under their watch. They must truly listen to the recommendations of this report and act to change the toxic, misogynistic culture of their institutions.
“The findings of this report provide a greater understanding of sexual assault and harassment on university campuses than ever before. The increased likelihood of sexual assault and harassment being experienced by LGBTI students, Indigenous students and students with disability is shocking. Each and every student deserves to be safe and universities must commit to this.
“Each and every day, NSW Labor stands with survivors of sexual assault and harassment. We will work to make reform of universities and colleges a reality. You deserve nothing less.”