Universities to Release Data on Campus Sexual Assault

The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) is delighted to hear that all 39 universities that participated in the Universities Australia Sexual Assault Survey will be releasing their university-specific data.

You may remember last year when Universities Australia, in conjunction with the Australia Human Rights Commission, conducted the first Australia-wide survey into safety on campus. Before this, data about sexual assault at universities was sparse, and UMSU eagerly anticipated the results from this survey, knowing that they would be able to contribute to our efforts to push for a safer campus.

Over the last couple of months, there was a great deal of confusion as to what information would be released publicly. While we were told that a general compilation of results would be released nationally, no guarantee was made about whether university-specific reports would be released publicly, or just to the vice-chancellors of each university.

The fact that all participating universities have agreed to release their campus-specific information means that vice chancellors around the country chose to listen to the voices of students and activists who pushed for this decision. It means that the thousands of students who put time and energy into answering the survey, a process which recalled traumatic experiences for many, will not have done so in vain.

For us at UMSU, data specific to the University of Melbourne will allow us to identify areas that need work and aspects of campus culture that we can actively change. It will allow us to have open and honest conversations about what needs to be done and to keep decision makers in Chancellery accountable for their actions.

However, we know that the release of these results was just the first step. What we do with it and how it informs UMSU’s actions in the future is an ongoing conversation and one that must involve a variety of student voices. I’ll aim to keep everyone updated as much as possible, and hopefully this is just the first win of many.

Yan Zhuang
UMSU President