UTS continues to work towards a safer campus for its students as part of the national Respect.Now.Always. campaign.
Our program of work is focused on a broader goal of bringing about a sustainable cultural change to enable a zero-tolerance approach to sexual violence in our community. Our three priorities are:
- Reducing the acceptance of the prevalence of sexual violence in our culture.
- Improving how we respond to instances of sexual violence.
- Improving our governance structures and instruments to bring about positive change.
We have adopted a student-centred approach to ensure that this work meets students’ needs and expectations. This includes:
- Student feedback and advice through a Student Consultative Group
A Student Voice research project by the UTS Design Innovation Research Centre. Qualitative research and exploration of the barriers and challenges that students experience in accessing UTS support for sexual harassment or sexual assault.
Reducing the prevalence culture
The following measures aim to prevent sexual assault and harassment:
- Implementation of mandatory Consent Matters online training in 2018 for all staff and students.
- The release of Responding to Disclosure of Sexual Violence online training in 2018 for non-clinical student-facing staff and student leaders.
- Sex and Ethics Training for all UTS Housing Residential Networkers.
- Face-to-face training each session for all ActivateUTS student club executives for help identifying, preventing, reporting and responding to sexual assault and harassment.
- Production of an ActivateUTS emergency contact card for students attending off-site events.
- Consultation with faculty staff to create an Academic Staff Engagement Strategy and identify opportunities to facilitate the transparent management of reporting incidents.
- Provision of common language advice for all faculties to embed in course material.
- Identify opportunities to support subject coordinators to engage in the campaign content through educational projects.
- Events to engage students in a dialogue about preventing sexual violence and ask for feedback on the research undertaken to date.
- Wanna spoon? Ask first campaign based on an ice-cream theme to reduce the stigma of discussing the prevention of sexual violence.
- Regular student and staff communications to inform our community of program updates, reaffirm our position of zero tolerance and reinforce access to support services.
- Onboarding student communications with a focus on respectful relationships and support services.
How we deal with the circumstances
UTS has improved responses to sexual assault and harassment by:
- introducing mandatory online reporting for all staff who receive a disclosure or are aware of an incident of sexual violence involving a student.
- introducing an online portal for those who wish to make a disclosure about sexual harassment or sexual assault but prefer not to do so in person.
- including emergency UTS numbers on the reverse of all new staff and student ID cards and distributing stickers for the reverse of existing ID cards.
- partnering with Relationships Australia to offer students an online selection of qualified counsellors.
- provisioning vicarious trauma training by Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia for students and non-clinical staff who receive disclosures of sexual violence.
Existing measures remain in place, including:
- the Concerning Behaviours and Intervention Team (CBAIT) that brings together internal representatives from a range of support units and meets fortnightly, or as needed.
- a confidential grievance resolution process by the Equity and Diversity Unit for students or staff who experience harassment or discrimination.
- 11 FTE trauma-informed counsellors including a social worker with a background in sexual health.
- a specialist UTS trauma-informed 1800 telephone support service.
- 24-hour security guard engagement including bicycle patrols (allowing quick response), shuttle bus until 2am and 24/7 CCTV monitoring.
- governance instruments that ensure informed investigation protocols regarding our obligation to ensure procedural fairness and natural justice for all parties during a grievance resolution process.
Governance structures and instruments
Within UTS, overall accountability for the Respect.Now.Always, campaign work sits with the Provost and Senior Vice-President. This is supported by:
- a Senior Working Group for the Prevention of Sexual Assault and Harassment.
- a Project Lead for the Respect. Now. Always. initiative.
- the Governance, Policies and Student Rules work stream to consider and review the efficacy of our current framework in relation to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Current governance work underway includes:
- a review of policies and procedures relating to the handling of student complaints.
- an assessment of existing contractual arrangements with external organisations that receive UTS students (internships, industry placements etc.).
Insights from our Student Voice project
Undertaken by the UTS Design Innovation Research Centre, this research established a deep qualitative understanding of student perspectives to inform the design of future work. Top-level insights include:
- Many students accept sexual harassment as part of their everyday experience
- Students are seeking a better understanding of appropriate behaviour
- Students experience complex internal processing about whether to seek support
- Unknown consequences deter students from seeking support or reporting incidents to UTS
- Students prefer informal support processes with people they trust
- Students need clarity on what support services do
- Students desire a more open conversation about sexual assault and sexual harassment in the UTS community
- There is a disconnect in UTS’s information on sexual assault and sexual harassment and how this was perceived