RESPECT. NOW. ALWAYS.
Respect is a cornerstone concept in a civil society’s fabric: it is to give due regard to someone’s feelings, wishes or rights. And this is a term that you may have heard much about in public conversation recently as Australian universities conducted a world-first survey into sexual harassment and assault as experienced by our students within and beyond our campuses.
The Respect. Now. Always. campaign, a collaborative initiative by all universities, commits us to providing a healthy, safe campus culture that embraces and celebrates the diversity of our community of students and staff. This means we strive to ensure our campuses are free from bullying, discrimination and sexual violence.
As part of this campaign a national survey was conducted by the Human Rights Commission on sexual harassment and abuse on Australia’s campuses and the results of the survey were recently released. The results of the survey are challenging and the report makes for confronting reading. I want to acknowledge those who completed the survey and thank those who had the courage to share their stories in this process.
The statistics, however they are interpreted, give one clear message to all of us that we can and must do more to better support survivors, and that there is still much to do in working with all members of our university communities in creating the kind of environment that is safe and in which we can thrive and achieve.
The challenge to universities is also the challenge to our wider community. Our campuses are largely safe places: our staff and students care and look out for one another. But we can do much better; both within our organisations and as champions and leaders for change within our society.
UniSA has a long-term, integrated safety and wellbeing approach which is designed to protect students against sexual assault, harassment and bullying on campus. At UniSA we have and will continue to have a zero level of tolerance for those who do not display the respect that should be shown always to all members of our community.
We have a suite of programs and services in place at UniSA to support this, from student counselling and mental health and wellbeing programs, through to apps that support a Safe Zone on campus, and staff and student education programs around the issues. But that doesn’t mean we can’t improve. A comprehensive review of our policies and support structures in this domain is well under way and we anticipate a range of improvements to ensure that UniSA models best practice in the prevention of and responses to sexual harassment and violence in our institution.
Accessing your education free from fear and harassment is an intrinsic right. At UniSA we must strive to create a respectful environment where we value our students and staff for their potential to contribute to better social outcomes and where sexuality, sexual orientation, race and religion are no barrier to acceptance, advancement and engagement. We have work to do together to achieve this aim, but I can think of no better focus for our efforts.
Professor David Lloyd
Vice Chancellor and President
Students and staff who need immediate support are encouraged to call 1800 572 224. This line is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week and is staffed by qualified counsellors from Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia.
UniSA’s Student Counselling Service is also available if you prefer to speak to a UniSA counsellor face-to-face or over the phone. Counsellors are available for appointments from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. You can book an appointment online or via phone: 1300 301 703 (Metropolitan campuses), (08) 8723 1999 (Mount Gambier campus) or (08) 8645 8233 (Whyalla campus).
Staff counselling is available through UniSA’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). To book a consultation with a trained counsellor, call 1300 277 924. You and your immediate family members are able to access four free counselling sessions.
Other support services are available too.