Sexual assault and sexual harassment have been a decades-long issue on college campuses. For the first time in Australia's history, a report reveals its impact, and this is drawing national attention by providing significant data to backup victims' and advocates' claims.
According to the Australian Human Rights Commission 2017 National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities, more than half of the 30,000 survey participants (51 percent) reported being sexually violated on campus via assault or harassment, and many of these incidents go unreported.
These alarming levels of sexual violence revealed in the report have prompted Australian education officials to take action that shares similarities with the 2014 U.S. reformation movement of Title IX, the U.S. law that prohibits universities from discriminating against sexual violence victims. Here's how the realizations from this report will impact Australian campuses and legislation moving forward.
Increased Investigations, Tougher Penalties
As a result of the proliferation of campus sexual assault and sexual harassment cases in the U.S., a push for increased investigations and transparency occurred. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) demonstrated that push for transparency by reporting how complaints increased by 1,000 percent from 2009 to 2014, while the days to address these complaints increased. As a result, investigations increased. The OCR found in May 2014 that 55 universities and colleges were potentially violating Title IX based on how sexual harassment and violence complaints were handled. As a parallel, it's likely that Australian officials will begin increasing investigations now that they have more awareness backed with statistical data.
More Training and Support
The OCR recognized the need for Title IX reformation to protect transgender individuals against sexual discrimination in 2014 when it provided additional clarification regarding their protection. Moreover, the reform redefined sexual harassment for additional protection and recommended that colleges and universities provide support and education on inequality.
Similarly, Australian officials have already acknowledged the need for additional support for victims and specialized training for school officials to know how to handle sexual assault and sexual harassment incident reports. According to the report, most victims reported incidents to tutors, friends and lecturers who lacked sexual violence management training. It also revealed that bystanders don't report because they lack education on sexual violence's severity or how to handle it and that some groups of people are at a higher risk of being targeted, such as Aboriginal, bisexual and disabled individuals.
Advocate by Symplicity is trusted by institutions like Duke University, Boston University and more to provide a comprehensive student conduct management tool that gives your students a safe, easy way to report incidents of sexual violence. Schedule a conversation with us here to learn more.