JOINT PRESS RELEASE
ANU STUDENTS ASSOCIATION (ANUSA) AND POSTGRADUATE AND RESEARCH STUDENT ASSOCIATION (PARSA)
ANU students rally, call upon University to make immediate changes following release of Sexual Assault and Harassment report
In response to the release of the survey, the ANU Students Association (ANUSA) and ANU Postgraduate and Research Students’ Association (PARSA) hosted a 'Speak Out and Sit-in' outside the ANU Chancellery. At the event, ANU survivors generously shared their experiences and called on ANU to make immediate changes to how it handles complaints about sexual assault and harassment. This action was a part of the associations’ Month of Strength & Solidarity.
ANUSA and PARSA stand in solidarity to demand that ANU take immediate action to combat sexual assault and sexual harassment in our university communities, and apologise for past mishandlings of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Students have a right to feel safe in the university community and access education free from violence.
ANUSA and PARSA demand that the ANU implement the following changes:
1. Establish a centralised sexual assault and sexual harassment policy
Create an accessible, centralised policy that fosters a culture of belief for survivors and accountability for perpetrators. ANUSA and PARSA acknowledge that there is currently an external review process underway that is expected to produce a draft centralised sexual assault and sexual harassment policy as well as resource recommendations for ANU. It is anticipated that this policy to be presented and voted on at the 1 December 2017 ANU Council meeting.
2. Create a centralised office to handle all reports, complaints and investigations of sexual assault and sexual harassment
Create a central, independent office and separate staff position/s to coordinate the collection of reporting information and conduct internal investigations by Semester 1 2019. The centralised office should be responsible for investigating and acting upon reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Any centralised office or staff should understand the need for confidentiality, accountability, and keeping survivors informed of the internal investigative processes.
3. Engage in a process of restorative justice
The ANU should facilitate a process of restorative justice for survivors whose cases have been mishandled by senior management. he scope and design of the process should be finalised within three months, with a public announcement by 1st November 2017. The end goal of this restorative process should be a genuine, meaningful, and public apology delivered by the Vice Chancellor.
4. Resource and fund specialised staff to properly support student survivors and students responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment
The burden of supporting and advocating for survivors should fall on ANU, not students. ANU must (a) fund Canberra Rape Crisis Centre fully after the current agreement with ANUSA expires in 3 years, (b) establish an independent office that engages and funds specialised staff in providing and coordinating student support relating to sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus, and (c) further resource and fund existing services to ensure wait times for crisis and regular support are reasonable. All resources must be sensitive to and take into account the unique experiences of marginalised groups.
5. Agree to a Student Partnership Agreement with ANUSA and PARSA on sexual assault and sexual harassment
An ANU Student Partnership Agreement with ANUSA and PARSA, endorsed by ANU Council, must have the remit and resourcing capacity to allow student representatives to inform problem identification and the development of responses. Students need to be treated as equal partners, and their perspectives valued and considered in regards to this issue.
Action to address these issues will ensure the safety of students on campus, survivors are provided with high-quality support services, and perpetrators of sexual violence are punished.
Holly Haoyi Zhang, ANUSA Women’s Officer, said: “To make up for their systematic mishandling of reports of sexual assault, ANU needs to commit to and fund an independent office with specialised staff to handle reports, and investigations. The only way to repair their relationship with students, is for the ANU to directly address each of our demands in detail, and justify any changes in implementation that they have not yet publicly committed to”.
Nathalie Blakely, PARSA Women’s Officer“, said: “The survey offers us a snapshot into the endemic of sexual assault and sexual harassment in Australian universities and at ANU. Although university management found it confronting, we as student representatives were not shocked by the insights it provided - it’s merely reinforced what we already knew. Universities need to establish a student partnership going forward on this issue if they wish to make genuine and sustained changes.”
Alyssa Shaw, PARSA President, said: “ANU has committed to measures that address the need to support survivors, which we welcome. However the ANU also needs to move beyond support for survivors to investigating allegations and ensuring justice in order to end sexual violence.”
James Connolly, ANUSA President, said: “The results are a wake up call for the ANU and for the university sector. We need accessible pathways for reporting and that includes funding a centralised, independent office otherwise our national university will for years to come be a national shame.”
For more information, contact:
Kate Melhuish, ANUSA Communications Officer, on (02) 6125 2444 or email@example.com
Tina Nash, PARSA Administrative Assistant, on 0490 662 020 or (02) 6125 4187,