We make this statement in light of the findings from the recently released (1 August 2017) Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) report which reveals the nature and extent of the problem of sexual harassment and assault on Australian university campuses.
We offer an unreserved apology to any individual who has suffered or is suffering as a result of our failing to address adequately the issue of sexual harassment and assault at an institutional level. We offer you support and respect. We acknowledge that harassment and assault are never the fault, or the responsibility, of those who have experienced it.
In recent years, we have worked purposely to create an environment for our students and our whole community where safety and respect is paramount. We have developed policies, processes and education programs around fair treatment, bystander engagement and consent, and have worked to raise awareness of the support services available. However, it is clear, that there is still much more work to be done.
We are committed to improving continually our practices around prevention in order to reduce and eliminate sexual harassment and assault, and to support those who experience it. We welcome the opportunity to reflect on the AHRC report’s findings and to be proactive in the implementation of their recommendations.
In this pursuit, we will be guided by the University College ethos, defined by the two precepts of personal responsibility and respect for others. In all endeavours we will continue to affirm that assault, harassment, bullying and discrimination are unacceptable.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss this personally with any of our community members, past or present who wish to do so.
If you would like information about the Respect. Now. Always campaign, the Australian Human Right Commission report or any further information, advice or support, please see: safercommunity.unimelb.edu.au for additional links.
Dr Jennifer McDonald
Head of College, University College