UofA students four times more likely to experience sexual harassment during student placement, report shows

Report finds that students from Adelaide are more likely to be sexually assaulted than students from UniSA and Flinders

Words by Tom Haskell

CW: Sexual Assault

A report released today by the Australian Human Rights Commission has revealed that in 2016, 51% of students surveyed had faced sexual harassment. Of this figure, 63% are women. 6.9% of students in 2016 also experienced sexual assault or rape. 87% of students surveyed who experienced sexual harassment or rape did not lodge a complaint with the university. In line with this stat, students were more likely to seek support off campus than on campus.

The report outlined the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault in University settings. This means that the figures above relate more broadly to university experiences such as pub crawls, travelling on public transport, as well as activities undertaken on campus.

In terms of figures relating to the University of Adelaide, the stats are consistent with the national report with the exception of a few points.

The rate at which students experienced sexual harassment as part of a professional placement was considerably higher at Adelaide Uni than it was for the national average. Students surveyed at the University of Adelaide were three times more likely to experience sexual harassment in a workplace as part of their university studies i.e. a professional placement. International students were even more likely to experience sexual harassment in this setting at 4 times more than the national average. Of the perpetrators of sexual harassment, students from Adelaide were three times more likely to be sexually harassed by a supervisor or boss while undertaking a professional placement. The Profile of University Respondents for the University of Adelaide made no mention of the settings in which sexual assaults occurred for students in 2016.

Nationally, 6.9% of students surveyed had experienced sexual assault/rape in 2015/2016. Adelaide Uni was just below the national average at 6.7%. UniSA was the worst in SA for sexual assaults with the highest rate amongst those surveyed. 8.5% of students from UniSA had experienced sexual assault in 2015/2016. Furthermore, 3% of students surveyed from UniSA had experienced sexual assault on campus. This is almost three times higher than Adelaide’s (0.8%) and 15 times higher than Flinders (0.2%). Flinders was below the national average at 5.5%. If this report is truly representative of Adelaide’s student population, that means that around 220 students were sexually assaulted on university grounds in 2015/2016.

90% of students surveyed who experienced sexual harassment did not seek assistance or support from the university. From Adelaide, less than half of students surveyed had some knowledge on where to seek support and assistance within the University regarding Sexual Harassment and less than a third knew where to seek support for sexual assault. Further, less than a third knew where to go within the university to make a complaint on sexual harassment and assault. A little over a third had some knowledge on the University’s sexual harassment and assault policy.

There were some other national stats which raised concern amongst students nationwide. Trans and gender diverse students were the most likely to experience sexual harassment (45%). Sexual harassment rates among women were 32% and men 17%. 62% of ATSI students were sexually harassed in 2016. Students with a disability were more likely to have been sexually harassed in 2016 than those without a disability. In 2016, 63% of students with a disability were sexually harassed at least once.

The report has not been without its controversies. Back in April, it was discovered that Universities Australia were under no obligation to release the findings revealed in the report today. After much pressure from student unions around the country, all 39 universities eventually committed to releasing the data. Adelaide was initially one of only four universities to not give a commitment to releasing the data.

When launched in August of last year, Universities Australia said that “The campaign has three key elements: raising awareness of sexual assault and sexual harassment and lifting the profile of support services for students; obtaining prevalence data to guide further improvements in policies and services; and assisting universities to share resources and best practice across the sector.”

The University will be holding a public forum tomorrow in Napier 102 from 4:15 to 5:15pm. Streaming services are available at Waite Campus (Charles Hawker 130 McLeod Lecture Theatre) and at Roseworthy Campus (in the Veterinary Science G05-G07 Combined). It is not clear if streaming services are available to students unable to attend these lecture theatres.

We will post more details as they come in.

If this article has raised any issues for you or someone you know, please call one of the services listed below:

  • Yarrow Place for counselling and 24 hour support on (08) 8226 8787

Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Ivan Jankovic, Stasi Kapetanos, Isobel Moore, and Michelle Roylance. Get in touch: onditmag@gmail.com