Respect. Now. Always.
Respect. Now. Always. Project
Macquarie University is committed to preventing and responding to sexual assault and harassment across the University, through its Respect. Now. Always (RNA) project. RNA is the Australian-wide cultural change initiative, led by Universities Australia following the screening of the documentary The Hunting Ground. Macquarie is deeply committed to shaping a culture of safety and respect for all students and staff.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment is against the law and the impact on survivors is long-lasting and devastating. The AHRC Report reveals that approximately one in five of students were sexually harassed in a university setting in 2016. The results also show that students’ gender, sexual orientation, culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, disability status and age are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and sexual assault.
A Respect. Now. Always. team has been established and has already undertaken the following work since the project was launched:
- participated in the first national survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment of university students
- consulted with students from key and disproportionately affected groups
- supported staff teams to participate in Sex, Safety and Respect Training, delivered by the Full Stop Foundation and Professor Moira Carmody
- collaborated with accommodation providers to incorporate education on respectful relationships among their student community
- developed RNA communication and promotion platforms, including dedicated RNA online presence (e.g, information and support pages, new Student Diversity and Inclusion Facebook page.
- created awareness of sexual assault and sexual harassment at key students events such as O Week, Sex Carnival Week, RE:Conception and Mental Health Week
- engaged with the marketing team to build literacy of our community around sexual assault and sexual harassment and consent, as well as respectful relationship principles.
- developed a workshop for students to critically analyse their attitudes and behaviours towards gender, sex and relationships, and develop bystander skills
- explored options for cultural change through embedding consent and respectful relationship education for all students. Facilitated the Respectful Relationships workshops for student leaders, such as residential advisers, student representatives, the executive team of clubs and societies, student mentors and student buddies.
- provided RNA training to over 200 student leaders and residential advisors at all accommodation providers
- provided information sessions for staff and leadership groups across the University
- developed a support website that provides a range of useful information about confidential counselling, medical support and complaint options for anyone who has experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment
- identified Campus Wellbeing as the initial contact point on campus for students seeking assistance in this area, as well as specialist external service providers
- worked with departments across the University – including Security and Campus Wellbeing – to ensure that they are consistent in their person-centred approach to students seeking support and all first responders are fully trained
- reviewed policies and procedures to ensure progress is monitored and best practice in the area is applied.
- Campus Wellbeing established a Student Care Team led by a trauma specialist
- established collaborative working relationships with Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia and North Sydney Sexual Assault Service, to assist in providing independent expert advice throughout the implementation of RNA
- streamlined procedures for making a complaint on sexual assault and sexual harassment following consultations with student representatives and groups
The RNA team sit within the Student Diversity and Inclusion Unit, consisting of a Project Lead, Project Officer and Education Officer, who are developing an RNA Action Plan (2018-2020) and RNA Education Strategy (2018-2020). Our RNA work is led by the Vice-Chancellor Professor S Bruce Dowton and executive sponsors Professor Kevin Jameson and Nicole Gower, Human Resources Director.
The Action Plan outlines Macquarie University’s response to the AHRC Report, as well as other sector reports (e.g., UA 10 point plan and the UNSW AHR Centre Report). The Plan is developed through consultations with students and staff at Macquarie University, including student communities identified in the AHRC Report as disproportionately vulnerable.
The RNA Education Strategy aligns with the RNA Action Plan. It sets out our pedagogy which is informed by Professor Moira Carmody’s Sex Ethics and Young People Framework, and best practice in sexual violence prevention education. The Education Strategy will include a training schedule to staff and students. The schedule includes two EPIGEUM online courses (Consent Matters and Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence) and face to face respectful relationships workshops.
The existing leadership structure for RNA has been reviewed and will be replaced by a governance structure composed of an Executive Implementation Committee, which will be led by two senior University Executives who will report to the Vice Chancellor on the progress of the Project. The Executive Implementation Committee will be supported by a student advisory group and a staff advisory group. The governance structure will be in place by the commencement of the academic year in 2018.