At the request of Australia’s 39 universities, the Australian Human Rights Commission has conducted a national, independent survey of university students to gain greater insight into the nature, prevalence and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.
The National university student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment (the National Survey) also examined the effectiveness of university services and policies that address sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus.
The request to conduct this survey follows decades of advocacy on the topic of sexual assault and sexual harassment at universities both within Australia and overseas. The National Survey is the first of its kind and the first attempt to examine in detail the scale and the nature of the problem in Australia.
This work builds on the Commission’s extensive experience leading projects of this nature, including the Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force and conducting national workplace sexual harassment surveys for the past 12 years.
The National Survey measured the experiences of over 30,000 students across all 39 universities and collected information about:
• prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment among Australian university students in 2015 and 2016
• characteristics of people who experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment
• characteristics of perpetrators of sexual assault and sexual harassment
• settings where students experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment at university
• reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and
• students’ recommendations for change.
In addition to the quantitative data gathered via the National Survey, a vast amount of qualitative data was gathered through written submissions. The Commission accepted written submissions from 23 August 2016 to 2 December 2016 and received 1849 submissions in total.
This report outlines the findings of the National Survey, provides an analysis of the qualitative information received through the submissions, and makes recommendations for areas of action and reform.