In the last decade, there have been great strides made by colleges and universities across the globe to address the mental health concerns of their students. Australian universities, however, need to provide more for their students when it comes to mental health. For example, an article in The World University Rankings reported that while Australian universities offered some mental health services, only a handful had implemented institution-wide strategies. In that same article, Dr. Veness, a trainee psychiatrist and former president of the Australian Medical Students’ Association, said that “Universities will have to find a way of shifting to an early intervention and prevention approach with an appropriate triage service that links with community mental health supports.” Until Australian higher education institutions start to take serious action to handle mental health, their students’ wellbeing will be endangered.
Australian universities especially need to consider being more proactive with how they handle sexual assault and harassment on campus. According to The Guardian, a survey of students from 39 Australian universities found that “51% of students were sexually harassed in 2016, and 6.9% of students had been sexually assaulted in either 2015 or 2016.” The findings of that same survey found that only a small number of those students submitted a report following the incident due to the fact that their “universities did not have sufficient reporting procedures in place” and students “simply don’t know where to seek help.” Australian universities need to better support their students by providing them with a safe environment. The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) annual conference strives to increase awareness regarding sexual violence on campus, as well as improvements to the overall student experience and student learning. ANZSSA provides development opportunities and sector representation for professional staff working in post-secondary education student engagement, student participation, wellbeing and development.
ANZSSA’s annual conference was held from December 8th to December 11th at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Symplicity was an exhibitor at this year’s conference showcasing Symplicity Advocate—the most trusted solution for student wellbeing and misconduct management. This solution records and tracks concerns about social adjustment issues, sexual harassment and assault cases while managing student conduct and intervention. Advocate provides staff with the ability to intervene appropriately and proactively, supporting the whole institution community, as well as individual students and staff. Additionally, it provides students with a user-friendly way to report any issue on or off campus that they fear may threaten their ability to thrive.