SBS News contacted a number of Australian universities to find out about their strategies for combating harassment and sexual violence on campus. These are the statements.
As part of its investigation into the suitability of online consent modules for international students, SBS News contacted a variety of Australian universities.
Some of these universities implemented online consent training last year, others are in the process of considering them, and some are working on the rollout.
For transparency, their responses in full are published below, as well as the response from Epigeum.
Some of the universities responded directly to each of the questions, while others provided a complete statement.
All responses are published below for transparency.
Statement attributed to Professor Debra Henly, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Griffith has implemented a comprehensive range of education, prevention and support mechanisms in response to the 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) report into sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian Universities.
All students have access to the "Consent Matters" online module, widely used across the sector. It is part of the compulsory orientation module that all students are expected to complete when they start university. Our website also includes "Consent: Its as simple as tea" as another resource.
Griffith also offers face-to-face training including through the nationally recognised MATE Bystander Program while students who reside on campus must complete further sexual assault, violence and harmful behaviour prevention training.
Although the "Consent Matters" module is only offered in English, Griffith's coordinating "Safe Campuses" committee includes representation from International students to ensure education materials and resources are appropriate for these students.
The impact of these initiatives is monitored through anonymised student reporting, including incidents reported to our counselling service and out-of-hours helpline. Griffith will also participate in the follow up survey recommended by the AHRC.
For more information on Griffith’s broad range of Safe Campuses initiatives please visit our website.
Western Sydney University
Western Sydney University takes a clear and strong stand on sexual assault and sexual harassment: sexual assault is a crime and sexual harassment is never okay, and neither is tolerated at this university.
In response to the landmark 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission national report into sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities, Western Sydney University formed a taskforce, led by the Vice-Chancellor, to deliver on all of the report’s nine recommendations.
The taskforce brings together a broad cross section of our student and staff community as well as representatives from sexual assault services, to implement a whole-of-university response to promoting respectful relationships and improving our campus culture.
In regard to online consent training, Western Sydney University has developed a partnership with Liberate eLearning to customise Monash University’s Respectful and Responsible online training module which will be made available for students and staff. This decision was informed by positive feedback that we received from our Respect. Now. Always. Student Ambassadors regarding Respectful and Responsible last year.
Follow up surveys assessing student and staff understanding of the core concepts of pre and post training will be used to measure the program’s success, as will the program’s uptake, as measured by Google analytics. The initial version of the training program will be in English and is expected to be rolled out by June 2018. It is envisaged that completion of the program will initially be made mandatory for specific groups and then for all students. Planned reviews of the online training program will assess what languages other than English will best meet the needs of Western’s unique student population. The rollout of Respectful and Responsible will supersede the Consent Matters online resource which was previously available on the student portal for voluntary completion by students.
Population of the RNA Student Leadership Training Portal with modules available for RNA Ambassadors to complete has also occurred. A consent module has been uploaded with development on healthy relationships, emotional intelligence, responding to disclosures and attitudes and behaviour regarding gender, sexuality, specialist modules for LGBTIQ+ and international students underway.
The online training modules relevant to sexual assault/harassment which are available to staff have been reviewed and the content is to be incorporated into the University’s existing induction module.
While the online courses are an important component of the University response, initiatives extend far beyond this strategy. The wide-ranging strategies and initiatives include:
- Ambassador program – we have implemented a Respect.Now.Always. Student Ambassador program to raise awareness about what constitutes sexual assault and sexual harassment and how to report these offences. This has been enthusiastically embraced by our student community indicative by the program increasing from 67 students in January 2017 to more than 325 Student Ambassadors by April 2018. The students themselves have devised practical initiatives such as pocket-sized safety cards with emergency numbers and advice on what to do should they feel unsafe. In February 2018, a RNA Student Ambassador-led training on responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment to 30 Peer-Assisted Study Session student facilitators was conducted with the Ambassadors planning student-driven video content, social media updates including via a Facebook page and ongoing engagement with faculties within the University.
- Training and awareness programs – we have a number of face to face training and awareness programs in place, which have been customised for different groups such as first-responders, students, postgraduate supervisors, University Games student leaders, and those living and working in our residential colleges. This has involved collaboration with the Gender Violence Research Network of the University of New South Wales. For international students, the Respect.Now.Always. campaign content has been included in all International Student Advisory sessions followed by International Student Safety Sessions across a number of campuses supported by digital screens and email communique. RNA Pop Up stalls were held across all 10 campuses for Orientation Week in February 2018 with more than 700+ undergraduate, postgraduate, College and international students engaged in dialogue about consent and respectful relationships, including at the Sydney City Campus, Sydney Olympic Park and the International College.
- Reporting and counselling – the University works very closely with NSW Police with respect to its reporting protocols, and continues to strengthen its reporting systems and counselling services available for students and staff. The University is also implementing a Respect.Now.Always. online portal to help students report issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment; any time, day or night.
- Resources – A range of printed and online resources have been developed to promote positive, respectful relationships across our campuses, with materials translated into a variety of languages. A new MyWestern dashboard has been developed featuring a Respect.Now.Always. banner and information visible to all Western students. The clickable banner includes WSU’s commitment to the campaign, supports available and procedures for reporting sexual assault and sexual harassment with links to the webpage. A mobile App is also being developed. The University is also working closely with groups such as the NSW Health Sexual Assault Service and has been liaising with Rape and Domestic Violence Services, Australia.
- Continuous reviews and methods for improvement – the University has plans to conduct an independent, expert-led review of all our existing policies, procedures and protocols, to ensure we are implementing best practice and making continual improvements to our support services and programs, and responding to sexual assault survivors in a respectful and responsible way.
Australian National University
Online consent training was introduced in early 2017 and was made mandatory for all new students and all residential students in 2018, including international students. By March this year, around 6,800 students had completed the Consent Matters module.
Students are not allowed to enrol in a residential college, including affiliated colleges, unless they have completed the course.
The online training has been backed up with face-to-face consent and sexual violence training by the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre staff for new students in residence in 2018.
The module has not been translated into other languages. However, some specific training and support has been provided to groups of international students to help them work through the online module.
The student response to the training package has been overwhelmingly positive. Extensive evaluation has been completed of the Consent Matters module including a survey of almost 6000 students. Overall satisfaction rate with the online module was high and students overwhelming thought it should be mandatory.
A number of staff and students, including 239 residential student leaders, have also completed the online training module on how to support someone who is disclosing sexual harassment and/or assault. This has also been backed up by face-to-face training by the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre for student leaders in residences, heads of halls and colleges and senior academic staff.
The University provided face to face Moving Australia Towards Equality (MATEs) bystander training for some staff and students in 2017 and is in the process of implementing more comprehensive training in 2018. Residential committees have already completed this training. Additionally, the University piloted the I-Respect Athletes as a Leaders Program for sports leaders and the management team within residences.
A comprehensive communication campaign including pamphlets and posters was rolled out during O-Week to new students with information on what to do and how to access available support for anyone who has been sexually assaulted or harassed. Students rolled out a complementary active bystander education campaign.
Other measures include:
- The University continues to partner with the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC) who provide specialist counselling services on site and deliver consent and disclosure response training to ANU staff and students. The University continues to meet regularly with CRCC and the student associations to coordinate the delivery of services and other activities.
- In December 2017, the University employed a dedicated Respectful Relationships Project Manager to assist the University to progress its commitments from the earlier report and review. Additionally at the same time, the University engaged change management experts, Rapid Context, to advise on strategies and actions to drive cultural change within the University.
More information about the University’s response to the Human Rights Commission report is available on the ANU Respectful Relationships website.
Statement attributed to Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Professor Jill Downie
The University has been consulting with our students, including our Student Guild, and staff to identify a program that will support the University’s strong commitment to providing a safe learning and working environment, and we are currently developing a bespoke training and awareness program for students. It is expected the pilot will launch in Semester Two 2018. Following an evaluation of the pilot, delivery methods will be assessed, including further developing the program into an online format for students and staff.
- What are the factors being considered before rolling out the course?
Before implementing a course, our first priority is to be sensitive to the needs of students who may have been previously affected by sexual assault or harassment. We also consider the needs of our various cohorts of students to ensure that any training is relevant to their circumstances. Course delivery methods, quality of content, timing of rollout, and how best to engage students in the course are also important areas for consideration. As with previous options considered, student feedback on the quality and effectiveness of course content is paramount.
- Have there been efforts made to ensure there are training programs for international students too?
The University will certainly include international students in any training that is delivered, and aim to do so in a way that takes into account cultural sensitivities, and any other needs specific to that cohort. Curtin students are first introduced to the Respect. Now. Always content as part of their specialised International Student orientation sessions.
- Will there be any mechanisms in place to measure its success?
As with other student programs run at Curtin, measures will be put in place to help us understand the impact and effectiveness of any sexual assault / harassment programs. These would include measuring engagement with online programs, understanding of learning outcomes and other feedback through student focus groups and other student feedback mechanisms.
- What initiatives does the university have in place currently?
Curtin has committed to implementing the recommendations in the Human Rights Commission’s Report and Universities Australia’s 10 Point Plan, and the University has many existing measures in place to protect and support its students and staff. These include:
- Comprehensive online resources/material provided across all main social media channels
- Dedicated website containing clear information regarding student and staff responsibilities
- Information provided to all Curtin students as part of their Orientation
- Advice and support is provided by frontline staff who have been trained to respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment
- Curtin has an active and effective Safer Community Team (security patrols, walking students/staff to car after hours, providing basic mechanical support etc.) A 'Safezone' app is linked to Safer Community Team
- Together with the Curtin Access Bus Service (CABS), there is also a Campus Courtesy Bus which facilitates safe passage for students and staff in the surrounding Bentley area to get to Campus and move around on university grounds
- Counselling and Health Services
- Student Wellbeing Services.
The University restates it’s zero tolerance to sexual harassment and assault, and our support to those who have been affected regardless of location. Should any member of the University community need assistance they can contact the Curtin Safer Community Team on 9266 444.
Monash University is committed to creating a safe campus and encouraging a culture of support and reporting to address sexual harassment and assault.
Monash published its results of the 2017 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) on sexual assault and harassment at Australian universities and is taking action on each recommendation.
As part of this action, all commencing students are automatically enrolled to watch a short video on ‘Consent’. The video explains what sexual consent means, where it begins and where it ends. We have received very positive feedback from students who have watched the video. The Consent video was launched in May 2016 and to date has been viewed by 16,025 Monash staff/students.
Further, all commencing students are automatically enrolled in the Respectful and Responsible online module [which has been endorsed by South East Centre Against Sexual Assault]. The module is aimed at stopping violence and problem behaviour before it occurs through the promotion of positive and healthy behaviours that foster mutually respectful relationships and sexuality, encourage safe bystander intervention and seek to change behaviour and social norms in healthy and safe directions.
The Respectful and Responsible on-line module was launched in May 2017 and to date has had 7,188 Monash staff/students access the module.
The Consent video and the Respectful and Responsible online module are also compulsory for all students attending overnight off-campus events that are operated, endorsed by or affiliated with Monash; and for office bearers (both students and staff) of all Monash Student Organisations and any Monash-affiliated clubs.
Students commencing in Monash’s on-campus Halls of Residence are required to watch the Consent video as well as taking part in face-to-face training on sexual consent with members of the Residential Support Team. This peer-led program Sexpectations, which is endorsed by South East Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA) is an interactive workshop exploring themes of sexuality, consent and community expectations, to enable all residents to foster respectful relationships.
The program was first piloted across all Monash Residential Services (MRS) communities in 2017, and made compulsory for all first year MRS residents in January 2018. As at 30 April 2018, 1208 residents have participated in the Sexpectations program this year. During the pilot year MRS engaged 1262 residents in the program.
In addition, MRS provides every resident with a reporting and support framework card (Safe and Respectful Communities Card) which outlines MRS’ standards, expectations and commitment to providing a safe environment for all residents.
MRS conducts an orientation survey with all first-year residents. This year’s survey included questions about whether residents found Sexpectations helpful. We also follow up with a face-to-face interview later in semester, which invites comment about the MRS policies around sexual consent and interpersonal conduct.
Responses from the orientation survey are still being collated, however, the comments received in face to face interviews indicate that Sexpectations is making a positive impact among residents by raising awareness and increasing their understanding of consent, the importance of reporting and where to access help if they need it. The Sexpectations program also highlights the importance of responsible and respectful relationships within the context of the MRS diverse community and the role that bystanders have to promote positive behaviours.
Monash is currently updating our online Consent video and will be releasing v2 which will be an on-line module including the current video and additional on-line learning material regarding consent and appropriate/inappropriate behaviours.
Consent v2 and the University’s Respectful and Responsible on-line module are currently under further development. Updated versions will feature survey questions at the conclusion of the modules which seek to gauge participants’ level of understanding of the subject matter, how likely they are to change their own behaviour, how likely they are to challenge inappropriate behaviours displayed by their friends, and how likely they are to challenge inappropriate behaviours displayed by other people.
In addition to the Respectful and Responsible online module, Consent video and Sexpectations, Monash offers a variety of resources, training and workshops to ensure a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for staff and students. These include:
- Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Assault training for staff and students, facilitated by SECASA (the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault)
- BRIGHT workshop: an introductory workshop aimed at student leaders addressing the issues of respectful relationships and gender equity
- A dedicated Respectful Communities Team within the Safer Communities Unit
- A Respect.Now.Always app available to Monash students and Staff via handheld device or web browser. Monash developed the App with the input and collaborative of SECASA, and our Student Organisations. The App helps users navigate the internal and external support, referral and reporting options available to them.
- The Monash University Respect.Now.Always Advisory committee, led by Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner
The Respect.Now.Always app also offers additional information and resources to international students who may have experienced sexual harassment or assault.
All Monash University students must meet minimum English language requirements and the materials were developed to ensure they are accessible and easily understood by all Monash students.
Staff from the newly created University’s Respectful Communities Unit attend 1st and 2nd semester orientation sessions for incoming Study Abroad and international Exchange students and provide information on Monash's commitment to the Respect.Now.Always. initiative, details of support services available at Monash and screen the University’s Consent video. During the presentation students are encouraged to complete the Respectful and Responsible on-line module.
University of Melbourne
The University is working on a range of new and enhanced actions to strengthen the University’s culture, policies and practices, and this work is being led by the Respect Taskforce chaired by Professor Richard James, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Provost (Academic and Undergraduate).
Initiatives include the roll-out of the Epigeum e-learning module ‘Consent Matters: Boundaries, Respect and Positive Interventions,’ which provides guidance around safe and respectful sexual relationships, including how to help others.
This year, all new undergraduate students are expected to complete the 60-90 minute module at the final stage of accepting their course offer.
We’re pleased that our student community is positively engaged with this initiative, with around half of new undergraduate students already completing the module. This includes an engagement rate of nearly a third of international students. The module is also available to all other students.
In implementing Consent Matters we have worked closely with our student representatives, including international student leaders who report no complaints or issues being raised with them. We have no plans for second language modules or special training for international students as there has been no evidence to date that this is needed. An internal evaluation will be undertaken, seeking feedback from students who completed and those who did not, to inform future thinking about what else we do.
We are pleased that the University community has been supportive of these modules and broader work to strengthen, align and update student and staff supervisor training materials. At this stage there are no sanctions for non completion – the University is taking an educative rather than a punitive approach – however students are being regularly reminded to complete the module.
You can also find more information on our Respect Taskforce site.
Statement attributed to Vice President (Students), Dr Andrew Smith
Swinburne has zero tolerance for sexual assault and harassment and we want safety and respect to be central to our university culture.
Swinburne supports student and staff safety through a number of services including the Consent Matters online training, introduced in mid-2017. All residential students are required to complete the training. The training is also compulsory for all students participating in formal student activities, such as inter-university sporting events.
The response from students who have completed the training has been positive, with feedback that the information within the module is appropriate and clearly presented. Our students have also told us the training should be tailored with additional university-specific information. In response, Swinburne is updating the training with links to local support services and information.
Other training includes a compulsory orientation session for first-year residential students which focuses on sexual health, consent, respectful relationships and bystander awareness.
Additional support is provided to international students who have English as their second language. Swinburne also offers welfare and safety sessions for all international students, supporting them to discover and understand Australian culture and law and covering issues such as domestic abuse, sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Other support services for students and staff include an out-of-hours crisis line managed by trained counsellors, a 24/7 security presence and a dedicated team that responds to problem behaviour.
The policies regarding the University’s position on harassment and assault are available on the Swinburne website and cover bullying, harassment, sexual harassment.
The Swinburne crisis line is available 24 hours a day on weekends and public holidays, and outside business hours on weekdays (before 9am and after 5pm).
Call 1300 854 144 or text 0488 863 269.
University of the Sunshine Coast
The online consent modules are a part of USC’s comprehensive approachto preventing harassment and assault and, in particular, our educative and preventative approach to preventing harassment and assault on campus. These are outlined in USC’s Respect. Now. Always. (RNA) response plan.
Q1. What has been the response from students and staff to the online consent module?
A1. Students have mostly reported positive responses relating to the content although Initial feedback from staff and students indicates the time it takes to complete has been a barrier. No students/staff have reported feeling unsafe or negatively impacted.
Q2. What initiatives are in place to complement the online module?
A2. The following initiatives are in place:
- Comprehensive policies and procedures explicitly addressing sexual harassment prevention and setting out the steps the university will take for breaches
- Series of awareness campaigns supported by education and training opportunities for staff and students
- Updates to the social media policy to make identifiable private use subject to University staff and student conduct policies
- The introduction of a Safer Communities Unit – comprising staff from Security and Wellbeing
- Recruitment of trauma-informed counselling staff
- The development of the Wellbeing Peer Ambassadors – using the content and delivering it in a blended format through the Student Success Network, SRC and Student Guild
- Collaboration with the ‘Consent is Sexy’ peer-led campaign
Q3. What happens if a student does not complete the module?
A3. The first phase is being treated as a pilot implementation to observe student reaction and monitor take-up. We will assess the results of the pilot at the end of first semester.
Q4. What efforts have been made to ensure the course is suitable for international students?
A4. We have customised some of the content and included contact details for culturally appropriate support services.
Q5. Is the module current available in languages other than English/will it be available in the future?
A5. All students studying at our University need to meet minimum English language standards, so provision of the resource in another language isn’t a priority at this time.
Q6. Does the university offer specific training for international students?
A6. Yes. We have a focus on the accommodation that services the majority of our international students. Strategies include a MoU with the service provider, regular contact with the counselling and Safer Communities team, University staff providing events on campus and prioritising on-site activities for the ‘Consent is Sexy’ and ‘Consent Matters’ training.
Q7. What was the total cost of the online consent module?
A7. Approximately $10,000
Q8. Any mechanisms in place to measure success?
A8. Through the Respect. Now. Always. implementation plan; and feedback solicited from students.
Q9. When was the course rolled out?
A9. Semester 1 2018
We remain steadfast in our commitment to protect and uphold the respect, safety and security of students and staff at RMIT. We want everyone to have the opportunity to be their best, to shape their future and to belong. That starts with ensuring our people feel respected and safe. Today and every day.
We’re implementing the full recommendations from the Australian Human Rights Commission as well as the University Australia recommendations. While a number of important actions have already been completed, there are more to come in 2018 and beyond.
The e-learning modules we are rolling out are one piece of a wider action plan designed to ensure that RMIT will always remain a respectful, safe and inclusive place to work and study.
RMIT had a soft launch of the e-module in March 2018 so it is too early comment on the response from students and staff.
We encourage all our students to complete the Consent Matters online module. Completion of the module is voluntary, not mandatory.
Oxford University Press designed the course, which is available in English. They are best placed to speak about how the course was designed.
We are engaging with students, including international students, on a range of wellbeing issues including threatening or concerning behaviour such as sexual harm.
We will measure the success of the e-module in the context of the action plan and welcome and encourage feedback about it.
University of Canberra
The University of Canberra has a strong culture of tolerance, inclusion and respect, and through training and education, we are promoting social change to prevent inappropriate behaviour in our institution.
We have taken a holistic approach to prevent sexual or interpersonal harassment or violence, implementing a range of programs and activities. They include a ‘healthy relationships’ program for students living in student accommodation and bystander training for students and staff.
The University of Canberra has also engaged Elizabeth Broderick AO, former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, to undertake a review of the current culture within the University, and of its student body, with respect to sexual harassment and sexual assault.
This ongoing review aims to provide an insight into the current University culture in this area. It will identify and consider the adequacy of current support systems within the University and how well they are understood by the University community. This work, which includes interviews with students and staff, will benchmark our processes and support systems against national and international best practice.
Last year, we conducted training for staff and students through the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, including self-care techniques, and upgraded security measures on campus, including the provision of security escorts upon request for staff and students walking to their cars and bus stops at night.
The University is also delivering the online course ‘Consent Matters’ to educate students on the culture of respectful relationships. The course, which was rolled out in July 2017, is not compulsory – with the exception of students completing study-abroad experiences and those attending University games. Students, however, are strongly encouraged to complete the course and there are ongoing efforts to ensure their participation.
The course is only delivered in English, but the University is working closely with a representative group of international students to deliver a targeted program to specifically address any cultural and language issues that might arise.
The student online program is complemented by the Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence program for staff, which assists staff in responding appropriately to disclosures from students.
The University also set up a Respect.Now.Always Committee in September 2017 to oversee and implement projects that would enhance a safe and respectful community at the University.
The University continues to support national cultural change to prevent and respond to violence against women in the workplace through a range of other programs and events. For example, the University of Canberra has been a White Ribbon accredited workplace since 2013 and the Student Representative Council has been actively involved in the #NeverOK campaign since the start of 2017.
The University of Canberra has a range of support services available for staff and students. The UC Medical & Counselling Centre provides medical and health advice and a free counselling service for students. Students can also contact the University’s Welfare Service, Multi-Faith Centre, UC Students’ Representative Council Women’s Officer or contact the Director of Student Life for support and advice. The University also refers students to a range of external support services, when necessary.
In addition to these services, international students are assisted through the International Student Support Service (ISSS). The ISSS is the first point of contact for international students who require information, assistance and support. A triage system between ISSS, the University’s Student Welfare area, as well as the Medical and Counselling team is in place to ensure students receive the most appropriate support required to look after their wellbeing.
As part of the UC community, our international students, participate in regular activities organised by the University to learn about the support services they can access on campus when needed.
During Orientation Week, for example, ISSS developed a passport-like system, through which all international students were introduced to the support services on campus in detail. Students would get their passports stamped when they had completed the sessions on each of the available services.
University of New South Wales
Statement attributed to Isabelle Creagh, Head, UNSW Colleges
What has been the response from students and staff to the online consent module?
In 2017, the Gendered Violence & Organisations stream of the Gendered Violence Research Network UNSW developed an online e-Learning module for residents of UNSW colleges, which addresses gendered misconduct including sexual assault and consent.
Feedback on the module from students has been very positive with over 1,130 college residents completing the course over the past three months.
Students were further supported by college staff and student leaders who completed face-to-face training to help with the rollout.
What initiatives are in place to complement the online module?
Since 2016, UNSW has increased its focus on sexual and other misconduct.
In addition to the two-hour online e-learning module, UNSW offers staff and student leaders face-to-face training to increase awareness of violence and sexual misconduct and improve responses to staff and students affected. This training is conducted by the Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN).
UNSW also works collaboratively with student leaders including in ARC, women’s networks and with student leaders within university residential colleges. As UNSW owns and operates seven of the 10 colleges on campus this enables better communications, higher levels of consultation and increased engagement with students.
What happens if a student does not complete the module?
Completion rates are tracked and all students are followed up with until the module is completed.
What efforts have been made to ensure the course is suitable for international students?
We created the module collaboratively and held several sessions during development to test and gather feedback from all stakeholder groups, including international students.
Also, future iterations of the module are being developed to include interchangeable scenarios and exercises that focus more on the types of issues we know our international students face more commonly then our domestic students. For example, this might include communication and cultural differences.
Is the module currently available in languages other than English / will it be available in the future?
The module is currently only available in English. We are exploring translation options with the GVRN, as well as face-to-face support services that have specialty knowledge and experience in sexual harassment and assault prevention. These face-to-face support services would have a range of language skills offering information, assistance and support.
Does the university offer specific training for international students?
We have endeavoured to ensure everything we have done is accessible to all our students. We are reaching out to more specific groups to understand more about their issues and prevalent incidents to create more targeted training for them, including international students, Indigenous students and LGBTQI+ groups.
What was the total cost of the online consent module?
It has cost us about $150k to develop the module with more funds allocated for ongoing development in the remainder of 2018. The University views this as an ongoing project that will be continuously updated and improved going forward.
Any mechanisms in place to measure success?
We have received positive feedback from the residential students who completed the module in the first weeks of semester. They thought it was relevant, timely and important. We are continuing to work with these groups to improve the module and deliver other training initiatives.
9. When was the course rolled out?
The module was rolled out to new residents in O-week 2018 and made available to returning residents in the first two weeks of semester.
What has been the response from students and staff to the online consent module?
The online consent module is part of a suite of information and education materials that has been made available to students and it has been well received. The module is compulsory for students who are resident in our on-campus accommodation, and voluntary for all other students.
It is also compulsory for at least one member of Clubs and Associations Executive, including FUSA clubs and all sporting clubs, to compete the online training as well as attend a face to face training session on Recognising and Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment. To date 30 individuals from the 27 associations have completed the training.
Some 4000 students have engaged with the online Consent Matters training - 2639 for the course and 1493 taking the quiz.
What initiatives are in place to complement the online module?
Residential students are required to attend a workshop providing face-to-face information about consent, on campus safety, appropriate behaviours and more. This also applies to Clubs and Association Executives as above.
Our Safety on Campus webpage shows our firm commitment to our zero tolerance stance, explains what we do to prevent and address consent-related issues, and provides specific information for students and staff. Our grievance procedures webpage also explains what we do if there’s an incident. We have acted over the past two years to strengthen how we prevent and address harassment and assault, and we are constantly reinforcing our culture of respect and safety for students. This includes working to support students to understand and abide by acceptable behaviour.
Information about campus safety has been rolled out across campus and online to raise awareness and ensure students understand not just the information is available, but how to access it. Training has also been provided to staff, including bystander training, and training in receiving reports.
Importantly, Flinders has supported its students to develop an information campaign centred of affirmative consent. Devised by students, for students, it discusses consent and behaviour in a forthright manner. Called Be a Better Human, it is being launched this week. Campaign collateral includes a booklet, animations, apparel, online materials and more. This approach aims to get students more engaged in consent and why it matters by speaking to them in their language.
The University is additionally liaising with peak body Universities Australia in regards to its proposed best practice guidelines, and this will inform the development of future initiatives.
Our Health, Counselling and Disability service has employed a Sexual Violence Project Officer/Counsellor to provide an immediate and specialised response to any disclosures and to provide training across the university that includes consent, bystander and first responder training.
What happens if a student does not complete the module?
Residential students are required to complete the online “Consent Matters” module and attend a face-to face workshop facilitated by experienced and qualified experts, unless they can present a compelling reason why they should be exempt. Students are followed up to ensure they do take part in a workshop (they’re run on an ongoing basis to ensure students can find a suitable time), noting that exemptions have been provided in instances where, for example, students’ past experiences mean involvement could cause them undue distress.
What efforts have been made to ensure the course is suitable for international students?
The consent matters module was developed to be relevant and applicable internationally. Simple language and illustrations aim to make it readily understood by students and if necessary easily translatable, noting that international students require a level of proficiency in English in order to be able to study in Australia. In addition to advice and support available through our Health and Counselling services, our International Student Services office offers one-to-one support to our students from overseas.
Is the module current available in languages other than English / will it be available in the future?
Please see above response – as our students have a level of English language proficiency and the language in the module is simple and readily translatable Flinders is not presently planning to make the course available in other languages.
Does the university offer specific training for international students?
Flinders believes the training provided is equally appropriate for domestic and international students. All Flinders International Student Services Staff have completed Recognise and Respond training.
What was the total cost of the online consent module?
The licensing of the module is the subject of a commercial agreement that we prefer not to reveal, however it would be broadly in line with the cost for a university of our size.
Any mechanisms in place to measure success?
our critical incident framework monitors reported cases of sexual or indecent assault and sexual harassment that are managed by the University.
When was the course rolled out?
Our on-campus residential accommodation service Flinders Living rolled out a custom-designed face-to-face training program in February 2017.
Consent Matters was made available to Flinders students in August 2017.
University of Wollongong
The University of Wollongong (UOW) is implementing a range of education and training initiatives for students and staff as part of its longstanding efforts to provide a safe and respectful community across all its campuses.
These have been enhanced and expanded as part of UOW’s response to the Australian Human Right’s Commission’s report into sexual assault and sexual harassment on Australian university campuses.
All initiatives underpin UOW’s ‘support first’ model by promoting the importance of positive relationships, good communication, mutual respect, clear boundaries, consent and bystander intervention.
They include the following programs:
- Responsibilities. Rights. Respect. An online module that promotes respectful relationships on campus, free from discrimination or harassment.
- EO online. An online module for staff that promotes respectful relationships free from discrimination or harassment in the workplace.
- STEP UP Bystander Intervention. A program that teaches students to be proactive in helping others.
- ‘Consent Matters’. An online course purchased from Epigeum that helps student and staff better understand sexual consent, support and develop their thinking around personal boundaries and how to talk about them.
- Mental Health First Aid. A training program which empowers staff and students to help a person experiencing a crisis until professional help can be provided. Includes content from the MATES (Prevention of Violence) and the Consent Matters online module.
- Ethical Leadership. A training course provided by the Full Stop Foundation for leaders and managers (including student residence managers and senior academic and professional staff) covering best-practice violence prevention research and leadership skills along with UOW policies, procedures and initiatives to promote respect and prevent violence.
- International Student Programs. Helps international students make new friends, link with the local community, develop positive behaviours, enhance English conversation communication skills and promote individual and community wellbeing.
More than 2,500 students have completed Consent Matters since August 2017.
Consent Matters is compulsory for all student leaders in UOW accommodation. All resident students are encouraged to complete the module, which is also promoted to non-residential students.
The Consent Matters program is promoted to international students through their orientation program and international student newsletters and also promoted by the UOW Careers Service through work integrated learning programs.
The University continually evaluates Consent Matters based on student consultation and user feedback. More than 100 students have participated in focus groups regarding potential improvements to the course.
Consent Matters is just one part of the University’s strategy for promoting a safe, respectful community free from violence and intimidation.
The University has partnered with the Illawarra Area Health Service to develop a suite of programs that target culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) students and promote sexual health education, including issues around consent. These programs address barriers to accessing information and services that may be experienced by CALD students.
The University also operates an after-hours crisis support line for all students and staff. Qualified support workers are available 24/7 to provide free and confidential support via phone or text.
UOW is currently undertaking a student-led review of all evidenced based bystander intervention and befriender programs to identify further improvement opportunities. This review involves consultation with community specialists currently delivering programs aimed at preventing gender based violence.
University of Adelaide
The University of Adelaide has zero tolerance for sexual harassment and assault. We are determined to dramatically reduce its incidence and support those affected. The safety and wellbeing of our students is paramount to us.
For this reason, the University has adopted all of the recommendations in the Australian Human Rights Commission report into sexual harassment and sexual assault. We have established a Respect. Now. Always. taskforce to guide such matters at our University.
Like many institutions, the University offers students the online training course, "Consent Matters: boundaries, respect, and positive intervention".
The course was first offered in July 2017 – in time for Orientation in Semester 2, 2017.
The response has been positive, with steady engagement from both students and staff.
To complement the online module, we offer free, face-to-face “First Respondent” training for staff and students. This half-day training session is run by a specialist sexual violence counsellor and is based on the Yarrow Place Recognise and Respond training.
The online course is made available for staff and students through our Safer Campus Community initiative. It is promoted during Orientation and again during March/April and August, which are designated “Safer Campus Communities” months.
Students and staff are encouraged to engage in both the online and face-to-face training options. The training is also used to targeted specific student groups by clubs and societies, particularly prior to specific student activities. Clubs or societies may utilise evidence of completion prior to enabling students to engage in these activities.
The module is available in English.
It is not mandatory.
All information about our Safer Campus Community initiative, including this course, is provided as part of our international student arrival briefings.
One of our Respect. Now. Always. taskforce initiatives is to develop additional culturally appropriate information, to be done in conjunction with international students.
Many of the universities have adopted online courses. Is this being considered at Bond University?
The university has taken a strong proactive approach by making educational content regarding sexual harassment and assault a mandatory part of our academic curriculum. This includes dedicated lecture content for all undergraduate students at the start of each semester. We also deliver respect and consent sessions to all residential students.
In addition, comprehensive online resources have also been made available to all students.
If the courses were rolled out, when would this happen?
Bond’s Respect.Now.Always education program for all new students was launched on 1 May 2017.
Have there been efforts made to ensure there are training programs for international students too?
Both domestic and international students take part in the education program which is a mandatory part of Bond’s academic curriculum.
Why has Bond opted for a compulsory lecture? Is it a one-off or are there follow-up lectures/ training?
At Bond University, senior students discuss issues of respect, consent, and safety with all new students in their first semester as part of the mandatory education program. All new students are given advice on who to talk to if they learn of or experience sexual violence or harassment.
A follow-up subject undertaken by all students in their first year at Bond addresses ethical thoughts and actions and respect.
In addition to these classes, which give students the opportunity to engage, ask questions and discuss the content with their peers, online resources are also available.
Will there be any mechanisms in place to measure its success?
We obtain feedback directly from the senior students who deliver the content as to how it is received and could be amended for future semesters. We have also instigated reporting into senior management.
What other initiatives does the university have in place currently?
Bond has a number of long-standing initiatives already in place including a 24/7 security presence on campus with CCTV surveillance and security officers provide a safe escort service for students and staff who are working or studying at night, on-campus residential managers, counselling services, and strong disciplinary action.
The university has introduced specialised training for front-line staff and residential managers and increased the resources directed to the support services and resources for students, including improving the visibility of support services for our LGBTIQ students.
Our psychologists at Bond University provide a free, confidential counselling service for students and staff. They have excellent contacts with the wider healthcare community and can also arrange specialist, professional assistance off campus.
The university has partnered with the Queensland Police Service to provide additional support, including a commitment to sending an officer to campus to take confidential statements from any individuals who have experienced a sexual assault rather than attending a local police station, which can often add to a person’s distress.
The university also partnered with our students to develop a joint response in the form of Safety Respect Care Consent – a comprehensive strategy built around the six themes of Awareness Raising, Education, A Safe Campus, Student Support, Reporting Procedures, and Disciplinary Powers.
A senior management working group, chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, was formed to respond to the issues raised around the Respect.Now.Always. campaign. This body has continued to provide direction and monitor performance.
The university continues to conduct a high-profile awareness campaign on campus, including website and social media messaging, digital signage, and student awareness activities, particularly during O-Week each semester (January, May & September annually).
Consent Matters - Epigeum
The Consent Matters: Boundaries, Respect and Positive Intervention training course was developed by Epigeum, part of Oxford University Press, in collaboration with Dr Alan Berkowitz, a leading international expert on positive intervention, and Brook, the UK’s leading sexual health and wellbeing charity, as well as more than 20 advisory panel members and reviewers.
We created a version of the course specifically for Australian universities, in collaboration with experts and local institutions, including the University of Newcastle, Australia and Charles Sturt University. This version contains content developed specifically for the Australian context, including animations, key statistics and articles from Australian sources, and links to useful resources, advice and support services that are specific to Australia.
The course is intended to be used within a blended learning context alongside face-to-face, and peer-to-peer workshops. It can also be customized to better fit the context of that institution, and is often integrated into wider educational and support programs provided. This also allows the course to be targeted at different student cohorts, including international students. Consent Matters is rarely used as a generic stand-alone online training course.
Epigeum is committed to creating high quality, cost efficient online courses for students, researchers, and university staff across the globe, through collaboration with experts worldwide. Our pricing is dependent on the size of the subscribing institution.