Students strolling on Eastern Avenue at the University of Sydney.

Broderick report on cultural renewal at colleges received

29 November 2017
Commitment to implement all recommendations

The University of Sydney today received a report from Elizabeth Broderick on cultural renewal at its residential colleges and announced it will be accepting all of the report's recommendations. 

The report was commissioned by the University and five of its residential colleges – Sancta Sophia College, St Andrew’s College, St John’s College, Wesley College and Women’s College. It follows extensive consultation with students, staff and alumni in all colleges over the past 18 months.  Today Ms Broderick formally handed over an overarching report to the University and five individual reports, one to each participating college.

Ms Broderick’s project team conducted discussion groups and interviews with 632 students and alumni during late 2016 and 2017, and a total of 1001 students completed an online survey administered to all students over the age of 18 years across the five colleges between 18 May and 9 June 2017. The project team also met regularly with senior staff across each of the colleges and the University of Sydney.

All participating colleges have agreed to make their own individual reports public (on their websites today) and also to work towards implementing all of the recommendations in their own reports.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence welcomed the Broderick Cultural Renewal report and said the process represented meaningful and substantial leadership on the part of the colleges and their communities.

“We share a commitment to ensuring all of our students are safe and look forward to working with the colleges to make sure all students feel comfortable on campus and college grounds at all times,” said Dr Spence.

The report found that the overwhelming majority of students feel supported by the college community and believe deeply in college culture and its contribution to their studies. However it also found that for some students there were challenges. Therefore, we must do more.
Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor and Principal

“In addition, the report has highlighted a number of areas the University can improve on and it is determined to make practical reforms as recommended in the report.”  

Dr Spence said the University recognises that previous systems for reporting sexual misconduct on campus needed improvement and confirmed that work had begun.

Actions taken so far by the University include:

  • establishing a single point of contact helpline to support survivors and bystanders when an incident occurs. 1800 SYD HLP makes it easier for students to access various levels of assistance in the event of an incident; including campus security, support services, reporting channels and external 24-hour help and an anonymous call back service
  • comprehensive first responder and bystander training for students and staff including student Resident Advisors in University-owned accommodation, counsellors, helpline staff and a wide range of student-facing professional staff and academic leaders
  • close collaboration with the NSW Rape Crisis Centre to assist with training staff, including formal training for the Student Affairs Unit and Campus Security, and to establish the Centre as a key contact point for assistance with out-of-hours access  
  • an online module, successfully used by other Australian universities, to help students and staff learn or refresh their knowledge about consent, respect, good communication and positive intervention. The module will be compulsory for all commencing students from first semester of 2018
  • made refinements to reporting and escalation protocols at all University-owned accommodation
  • creating a publication, Specialist advice and support for students, to increase awareness of, and referral to, resources. It accompanies improved training for staff to increase awareness of mandatory reporting obligations and how to balance student confidentiality with these obligations
  • establishing a new complaints handling and investigation systems to be more prompt and far more transparent with those making complaints about the process, how long it might take, key milestones, and what to expect. We have also completely revised related web content and record-keeping to reflect those changes.
The University of Sydney is committed to eliminating intimidating, abusive, disrespectful or threatening behaviour from our campuses and the communities we serve. The safety and wellbeing of our students is at the forefront of our concerns.
Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor and Principal

“While sexual misconduct is covered by existing policies, the University has, in line with the recommendations of the Broderick report, already begun developing a standalone sexual misconduct policy in order to provide better access and support to students when they require it. This is an area the report identified we needed to improve.  Sexual misconduct, harassment and assault is not, and will not, be tolerated on campus,” Dr Spence said.

Dr Spence thanked Ms Broderick and her team for the significant effort they had made in engaging with the college communities and preparing the reports. He also thanked the many students, staff and alumni who contributed to the cultural renewal project.