Understanding the student voice on sexual assault and harassment
To deliver effective and lasting culture change in the area of sexual assault and harassment, we recognise the need for a whole-of-university approach. Only together can we create an environment where everyone can study and work safely.
In 2017, the UTS Design Innovation Research Centre (DIRC) was engaged to better understand the student perspective on sexual assault and harassment.
Key themes from the research are used in strategic decision-making and initiatives related to sexual violence and underlying behaviours:
1. Many students feel that sexual harassment is a part of their everyday life experience.
“If I was sexually harassed I would probably just brush it off. It can happen when you’re walking down the street, it’s just annoying.”
2. Students are seeking a better understanding of appropriate behaviour, including what constitutes sexual harassment and what is acceptable in Australian culture.
“I don’t really understand what sexual harassment means, or what to do about it in Australia.”
3. Students desire a more open conversation about sexual assault and sexual harassment in the UTS community.
"Dialogue is really important; we need to be able to talk about this.”
4. Students found it difficult to decide whether to seek support following an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
“I think something must be really wrong for me to go to a counsellor, it’s hard for me to know if that’s really something I would need.”
5. Students are deterred from seeking support or reporting to UTS because they are uncertain about the consequences of their actions.
“What’s happening with the data? I don’t really know what the outcomes will be for me.”
6. Students prefer informal support processes with people they trust.
“I’d rather speak to my friends or someone I knew well, otherwise it’s too overwhelming.”
7. Students need clarity on what support services do.
“I don’t really know which UTS service could help me with a sexual assault or harassment issue, I might just go to security.”
8. A step-change in educational experiences is needed for students transitioning from high school to university.
“We didn’t have these conversations in schools.”
9. The term ‘consent’ is not understood by some international students.
“I don’t know the word consent in my culture.”
10. Students want to see the impact of their contributions about the discussions on the topic.
“Where will this research be going?”
11. Staff desire to have a greater engagement with students on the topic.
“It is a whole-of-campus experience – not just students.”