A year ago today the Australian Human Rights Commission released Change the Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Harassment at Australian Universities. This paper shed new light on the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault on University campuses, the shockingly low rates of reporting of such incidents and the lack of cohesive response to reports from many Universities.
Since the report has been released RUSU has worked tirelessly alongside the University to introduce a framework that aims to create a safer learning environment for everyone. In the last year RMIT has introduced peer-led bystander training for students and RUSU has been instrumental in supporting its success. Over 95 of our club executives have completed Bring in the Bystander training as well as numerous RUSU representatives. We will continue to promote this training and encourage the University to train student leaders who represent RMIT in sports, debating, on exchange and in the wider community.
RUSU has also been actively campaigning for University decision makers to receive better training on responding to disclosures from students. Often it is in appeal hearings or in academic progress submissions that already vulnerable students make a disclosure for the first time. It is essential that staff members receiving these disclosures can respond appropriately and supportively. We will continue to work with the University on this.
We are pleased that RMIT is introducing a Restorative Engagement Model and commend the University for committing its most senior staff to an initiative designed to support victim/survivors of historical instances of sexual assault at RMIT. We have consulted with the University on this project and will continue to work with the University to ensure that this project protects and empowers participants and that their experiences contribute to meaningful change at the University level.
Finally we have also been working with the University on a campaign designed to raise awareness of everyday sexism and the importance of calling it out when you see it. We all have a role to play in ensuring that the RMIT community is a place in which we feel supported, safe, secure and respected. RUSU is proud of the response from the student community that has overwhelmingly be one of understanding and support. It speaks volumes that the students at RMIT have been so committed to creating a culture of respect and mutual support. We will continue to work hard for all of you to ensure that everyone in our community gets to feel safe and secure during their studies.
If any of this newsletter has affected you at all please reach out to and talk with someone who can help you. RUSU runs a confidential drop-in service, Compass. You can go in for advice and referral with no appointment necessary. RMIT also has Safer Communities and the Counselling service which can be contacted at any time.