RUSU Stands With Survivors Of Sexual Harm

Shana Schultz



Content Warning:
This statement discusses the results of a survey that asked students about their experiences of sexual assault and sexual harm. The statement does not go into detail of specific experiences in sexual assault, but it does mention the harmful impacts of sexual violence.

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Today saw the release of results from the 2021 National Student Safety Survey into incidences of sexual assault and sexual harm (SASH) at Australian Universities. The results demonstrate that SASH remains pervasive on Australian campuses.

University students deserve a safe environment in which to learn and build their futures. But for too many students, sexual violence will have a devastating and ongoing impact throughout their lives, preventing them from gaining the education they deserve.

A student affected by SASH will have their life and studies interrupted by the immediate medical and psychological needs that arise from this harm. They are also likely to experience ongoing difficulties that will limit their capacity to maintain their academic performance.

Without rapid and appropriate response, and ongoing support, the impacts of SASH can be so devastating that a student feels unable to continue with their studies. RUSU has been fighting, and will continue to fight, for RMIT to implement best practice recommendations for the investigation and management of disclosures of sexual assault and sexual harm at university, to ensure students receive the response and support they need.

Taken from the 2021 KPMG report into the University of Adelaide, Towards a Safer and More Inclusive Culture, RUSU is calling on RMIT to implement the following critical recommendations:

  • Establishment of a specialist, independent unit, staffed by violence prevention and response experts, to investigate, case-manage and support victims of SASH at RMIT and to provide ongoing support to students to aid them in continuing with their studies, in a way that prioritises psychological and physical safety.

  • Overhaul of the current Sexual Harm Policy suite to reflect the establishment of an independent investigation unit and the redrafting of the policy and procedures to reduce complexity and increase transparency and accessibility.

RUSU calls on University leadership to take a strong stance on preventing and responding appropriately to SASH. It is vital for the safety of current and future students that we ensure RMIT is making substantive progress in addressing this problem as quickly as possible. All students deserve a safe environment to learn. For that to be possible, RMIT must implement best practice to safeguard the physical and psychological wellbeing of students.

If you have been affected by anything in the above statement, please contact:

RMIT Safer Communities – RMIT's dedicated service for students and staff to report unwanted or threatening behaviour including sexual harassment and assault 9925 2396

RUSU Compass - Compass is a service that supports RMIT students by offering advice, information and referrals regarding a wide range of issues

CASA House - A counselling, advocacy and crisis response service for people who have experienced SASH 9635 3610

1800 Respect - National telephone counselling service if you have experienced sexual assault or domestic family violence or domestic family violence 1800 737 732

Q Life - Provides peer support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people and their friends, families and allies 1800 184 527

WIRE - Any woman, any issue – free support, referral and information for all Victorian women, non-binary and gender diverse people. Call 1300 134 130