University responds to letter from Women’s Officers

23 August 2016

The University of Sydney has responded to an open letter to Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence from past and present Women’s Officers, about the University’s actions in relation to the issue of sexual assaults on campus.

“Any suggestion that the University has stalled action on assault on campus is untrue.

“It remains deeply disturbing that the prevalence of sexual assault is not zero. However an extensive campus survey has demonstrated that the incidence of sexual assault on campus is much lower than in the general community. This survey was conducted with support and input from the student community who helped to guide the structure and nature of questions in the survey.

“We have recently instituted the University of Sydney Helpline for staff who may receive reports of this or any other concerning behaviours to ensure they receive advice from appropriately trained counsellors on how to respond and best support students in thinking through their options.

“The Student Affairs Unit is currently undertaking training with the Rape Crisis Centre using their expertise to better inform our practices.

“The University has also recently improved information available online for students on the basis of feedback from the student community. There are now a range of different pathway to support students seeking advice.

“The University will be participating in the ‘Respect. Now. Always.’ campaign by Universities Australia in partnership with Australian Human Rights Commission. The results of the survey will complement and extend upon the results of the University of Sydney survey undertaken on our campuses last year, and will provide further research data and impetus to continue to improve our campuses in creating a safer community for all.

“Our women’s officers will continue to be integral to the ongoing improvement of our reporting processes and the University’s understanding of the issue.

"The University will continue to do whatever it can – including discussing many of the sensible recommendations outlined in the letter – to reduce the experience of sexual assault on campus.”

Kirsten Andrews

Head, Media and Public Relations
The University will continue to do whatever it can to reduce the experience of sexual assault on campus.