Uni acts on harassment

Uni acts on harassment

New online program designed to raise awareness of respectful relationships, sexual consent and bystander interventions.

It’s no surprise that universities are trying to find new ways to raise awareness and stop sexual harassment by staff members, after there had been 88 reports of sexual misconduct at four of the big campuses in Western Australia.

Curtin University drew the highest number of reports with 34 lodged out of which 20 were related to sexual harassment and 14 were sexual assault.

For the first time in Western Australia a new tailor-made training program will be introduced by Curtin University at the beginning of next semester to raise awareness of respectful relationships, sexual consent and bystander interventions.

The new ‘Respectful relationships’ program forms part of the university’s response to ‘Re- spect.Now.Always’ – a national campaign to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault across the university sector.

The Student Guild was also instrumental in the creation of the consent module and Vice President Nicola Gulving pushed for the creation of this module and coordinated a team of Guild representatives who wrote the module’s content.

Guild president Finlay Nolan said she is hopeful that the consent module will help to clarify and ensure that everyone in the Curtin community is on the same page about consent and respect.

“What is considered respectful and appropriate behaviour is something that has changed significantly over time and differs depending on peoples’ upbringing,” she said.

“The Guild has continuously advocated for those who are affected by sexual assault and
harassment and pushed for Curtin’s counselling and health services to be better funded and more easily accessible.

“As long as sexual assault and harassment occurs in the university community, our team of representatives will advocate for affected students.”

The one-hour program will be available through Curtin’s online learning platform with interactive modules that can be completed individually or in groups.

Curtin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the online training program provided further support to students to ensure they understood the range of services available to assist with trauma and personal wellbeing.

“This training program takes a contemporary approach to these very important issues, referencing popular culture, diverse genders and sexualities, gamification and comic book-in- spired characters to ensure it appeals to students,” she said.

The training modules were developed in consultation with the Curtin Student Guild, Curtin’s Diversity and Inclusion Team, Curtin’s Careers and Leadership Services, Curtin’s Counselling and Health Services and the Western Australia Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC).