Respect never gets old
A lot can happen in three years (heck, a lot can happen in just three months!). On Saturday 1 August 2020, we’re acknowledging three years since the Change the Course report was released. That report came from a national survey of over 30,000 university students who shared their experience of sexual violence in a range of settings, including university communities.
The Respect.Now.Always. initiative is a world-first, sector-wide program that aims to prevent sexual violence in university communities and improve how Australian universities respond to and support those who have been affected.
Following the report’s release, our own Respect.Now.Always (RNA) team took to UTS's collaborative classrooms and food courts to find out more about the concerns of our community. You told us that:
many of you tolerate sexual harassment as normal and are afraid to report an incident
you don’t know what help is available for you or your peers
want to have open conversations about sexual assault and sexual harassment, and
want to understand what behaviour is and isn’t appropriate.
Since then, we’ve been listening. We’ve acknowledged the need for change. And with your help, we’ve created meaningful change within our community. In addition to developing some outstanding ice-cream puns (‘not in a melon years’ or ‘don’t reach for the peach’ anyone?), we’ve also seen:
8000 students engaging with our ice-cream activations
60,000 students successfully passing the Consent Matters online module, and
5000 staff successfully passing the Consent Matters online module.
Recently, we also launched the respectandconsent.uts.edu.au microsite which walks students through a virtual experience of the ice-cream activation. Here, you will discover what consent is, how normalised unacceptable behaviours can be a slippery slope to sexual assault, the practical ways we’re making UTS a safer place and what communities are doing, across the globe, to stand up for equal rights and respect.
At UTS, we're addressing everyday sexist attitudes and behaviours to help reduce cases of sexual assault.
And we’re not done yet. While COVID-19 has changed the way we live and work, it hasn’t changed our commitment to end sexual assault and sexual harassment on Australian university campuses. Through whole-of-community engagement and participatory design, RNA seeks to reduce, eradicate and prevent sexual violence at UTS.
Soon, we’ll also be launching a pilot project (created by a team of our own final-year design students) that improves the way we introduce international students to the UTS RNA program. For those of us who live, study and work locally, we’ve created a social distance etiquette guide, netiquette guidelines, information about how to be an active (virtual) bystander, how to set personal boundaries while respecting those of others and more.
So, thank you! And, as we continue to work and study during these times of restriction and isolation, your safety and wellbeing remains paramount. Make sure you know your rights and respond with compassion to any forms of sexual violence. Find out more about how to report an incident, find support, help a friend, and (for staff only) how to report a disclosure of sexual harrassment or assault.