Monday 9 April 2018

The Australian Human Rights Commission will conduct an independent review of residential colleges at the University of New England (UNE) in the regional centre of Armidale, NSW.

The University has seven residential colleges, currently home to approximately 1800 students.

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s landmark Change the course: National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities highlighted colleges and university residences as a specific area of concern. In a national survey of over 30,000 university students:

•  21% of students who reported being sexually assaulted and 6% of students who reported being sexually harassed said that the most recent incident occurred at a university or residential college social event.

• 10% of students who reported being sexually assaulted said that the most recent incident occurred in a residential college.

• Students who lived in residential colleges were more likely than other students to have reported experiencing sexual assault and sexual harassment.

UNE survey results can be found here

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said UNE has recognised there are significant issues to address.

“I’m pleased UNE has been proactive and has asked the Commission to conduct an independent review of its colleges, as recommended in the Change the course report.

“Previous work with the Australian Defence Force Academy, the Australian Defence Force, universities and the National workplace sexual harassment survey, has enabled the Commission to build a wealth of institutional knowledge and skill on addressing sexual violence, gender-based discrimination and achieving cultural change.

“The review will involve a deep examination into the culture of UNE’s colleges. Such reviews can result in extremely sensitive issues being raised and disclosed. Specialist expertise is critical in ensuring that review teams respond appropriately and sensitively to the information they receive,” Commissioner Jenkins said.

The Commission will consult with former and current college residents, staff and other stakeholders to gain an understanding of individual experiences to inform the review.

Media contact: Lindy Kerin 0430 366 529