National Student Safety Survey

The results from the National Student Safety Survey on university-based sexual assault and harassment were released on March 23rd, 2022. The report aimed to "encourage students to share their experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault." It revealed the devasting impacts of sexual assault and harassment at Australian Universities. 

The report contains discussions of sexual harassment and assault, along with mentions of self-harm, drug use, and suicidal ideation.  UMSU acknowledges that the release of results and subsequent discussions about sexual violence may cause distress to members of our community. If you or anyone you know is affected, we encourage you to access these support links.  

Survey Results 

  • 1 in 6 students had been sexually harassed, and 1 in 20 students had been sexually assaulted since starting university.
  • Non-binary, gender diverse and transgender students were disproportionately affected by sexual violence. 
  • The University of Melbourne ranked below the national average in student knowledge about reporting and support systems.
    At Melbourne University 56.5% of respondents knew nothing to little about where to report sexual harassment. And 59.3% of respondents knew little to nothing on where to report sexual assault. 

  • Survivors criticized the complaints and reporting processes they encountered.
    The qualitative report demonstrated that reporting and complaints processes lacked transparency and often retraumatized survivors. 

  • The need for residential college and student accommodation reform.
    25.3% of most impactful sexual assaults occurred in residential and accommodation settings. Students criticized current reporting avenues at residences asking for, "more transparency and oversight from authoritative sources outside of residences." 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was this survey conducted?  

In 2016, Universities Australia, the peak representative body for Universities in Australia, commissioned a survey and subsequent report on campus-based sexual violence. This was the 2017 Change the Course Report. This report revealed that university-based sexual violence was underreported, levels of sexual assault were unacceptably high, and universities needed to do more to prevent violence.  

The 2021 National Student Safety Survey aimed to investigate the prevalence of sexual violence on university campuses and inform responses to sexual assault and harassment.  

Who participated in the survey?  

The survey randomly sampled students from universities across Australia. In total 44,000 students participated with 1481 students participating from Melbourne University. The sample selection considered factors such as gender, year of student, residency.  

What is UMSU doing in response to these results? 

UMSU is committed to advocating for better responses to sexual assault and harassment. We have an ongoing campaign that includes ten priorities for change at the University. We believe that these survey results reinforce the need for the University to adopt our recommendations.