University student survey on sexual violence to help shape safer communities

Published 6 September 2021
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The 2021 National Student Safety Survey is a crucial step in preventing sexual violence and supporting those who have experienced it in their communities.

Starting today and conducted on behalf of Universities Australia by the Social Research Centre (SRC) in partnership with leading violence prevention expert Dr Anastasia Powell of RMIT University, the national survey will collect data on the scale and nature of university student experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the survey – which will run until 3 October – builds on the first, foundational survey conducted in 2016 as part of the world-leading Respect. Now. Always. initiative.

“Any incident of sexual violence that occurs inside or outside of our university communities is one too many,” Ms Jackson said.

“Universities acknowledge the lived experience of victims and survivors of sexual violence, some of whom may be participating in this survey. We wholeheartedly thank students for sharing their experiences and pay tribute to the courage it takes to do so.

“Sexual violence is a society-wide issue. Many in our community are at greater risk including young women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women with disability and people in the LGBTIQ+ community.

“Our universities recognise their responsibility and are determined to build on their commitment to prevent sexual violence and support those who have experienced it.”

The national survey will be conducted online and will randomly sample students from universities across the sector, including Southern Cross University.

Up to 10,000 students will be asked to participate from each university, depending on its size. All current and recent university students enrolled in the past five years will also be able to share their story anonymously online.

Since the release of the 2016 survey, universities have implemented 800 major actions to prevent and respond to sexual violence in their institutions, including first responder training for student leaders, and consent and bystander training for staff and students.

Due to a change in methodology, the prevalence rate arising out of the 2021 survey cannot be directly comparable to the 2016 survey.

Free and confidential support services are available for people who would like to seek assistance, including at universities.

“It is important to stress the confidentiality of all survey responses, including responses which recount or detail any sexual harassment or assault a student may have experienced or witnessed,” Ms Jackson said.

“Student and survivor safety and wellbeing is at the centre of the entire survey process and those who participate will be able to stop and restart at any point should they wish to step away and take a break.”

These support services include:

• 1800RESPECT: National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence counselling www.1800respect.org.au or 1800 737 732
• MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78, or mensline.org.au
• QLife, referral service for LGBTQ people: call 1800 184 527 or qlife.org.au
• Australia wide university support and safety services (listed through Universities Australia): www.universitiesaustralia.edu.au/our-universities/student-safety
• Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au or 1300 22 4636
• Lifeline: www.lifeline.org.au or 13 11 14

A national report will be released in early 2022.

National Student Safety Survey 2021

The National Student Safety Survey 2021 opens September 6 and runs until October 3. Invitations to participate will be sent via email to randomly selected students at each university. We want to thank all the students and survivors who will complete the main survey for taking part in this important work.

If you do not receive an invitation, you can still tell Your Story.

#NSSS2021

Media contact: Sharlene King, media office at Southern Cross University +61 429 661 349 or scumedia@scu.edu.au