National Womens Officer
The NUS Womens Department is responsible for advocating on behalf of all women in tertiary education, lobbying relevant government ministers and university administrations, and working with Student unions and activists on university campuses to run campaigns around issues that affect women students.
Campaigns in 2018
The core campaign of the Women’s Department in 2018 is We Will Not Be Silent. This campaign has been launched nationally and is working in conjunction with other unions and organisations.
This campaign is in direct response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s ‘Change the Course’ report, which found that in 2015/16 51% of students surveyed reported that they had been sexually harassed at University and 9% of students surveyed reported that they had been sexually assaulted at University.
The report also found that Women Students, Queer Students, Trans Students, Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Students, Students of Colour and Students with Disabilities are more likely to be sexually harassed or assaulted than any other student.
But perhaps the most alarming figures to emerge from this report is that 68% of students who had experienced sexual harassment at university and 40% of students who had been sexually assaulted on campus DID NOT report the incident to the university because they didn’t think it would be considered serious enough.
The We Will Not Be Silent petition calls on Vice-Chancellors to:
Commit to the Australian Human Rights Centre’s 18 Recommendations, set out in the ‘On Safe Ground’ report and the Recommendations made in ‘The Red Zone’ report;
Sexual ethics and managing vicarious trauma training for all university and college staff and students by experts in sexual violence ;
Create and improve standalone policies and procedures so that they are survivor-centric with clear disciplinary consequences for offenders ;
Trauma-informed support services for students, including an on-campus trauma-specialist counsellor with all materials and services available in all languages’ ;
Maintain accurate and comprehensive records of reports;
Our organisations have launched a campaign with a joint call for the Government to establish an independent, expert-led taskforce to hold universities and residences to account on sexual violence. Our petition has reached over 3000 signatures and is still going!
As a part of this joint campaign we have released a joint statement detailing what we wish to see from the taskforce and have then met with both the Minister for Education, Hon Simon Birmingham and the Shadow Minister for Education and Women, Hon Tanya Plibersek.
The Women’s Department has called a National Day of Action for August 1st, 2018, this day marks the one year since the release of the ‘Change the Course’ report. Exactly one year on from the release of the report, students expect their universities to have taken substantial action to both support survivors and prevent further experiences of sexual assault. Those universities that have failed to act by this deadline will be called out by students at protests around the country.
Please feel free to email us for more information or to get involved!
If you have experiences of sexual harassment or assault and wish to seek further support, please find a list of support services here