RMIT University is changing the course on sexual assault and harassment

By Alexandra Middleton |@alexandramidd16

Photo by Shaun Low

RMIT University has taken action to reduce sexual assault and harassment on campus in the 18 months following the Change the Course report on sexual assault in universities.

The original Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) survey found over a quarter of RMIT students experienced sexual harassment on campus.

Since the report was released in 2017, RMIT has responded to all nine recommendations from the AHRC in the areas of leadership, governance, education, engagement, support and the high impact/risk category.

According to RMIT “the aim of our Changing the Course framework is to build a community where every student and staff member is not only safe, but respected, valued and treated as an equal in our community”.

The changes include face-to-face education and e-learning modules for students and staff, as well as RMIT’s ‘Be the Change’ engagement campaign.

This campaign was designed in collaboration with students and launched in 2018, with a goal to continually engage in consultation with key stakeholders, especially students.

Additionally, in response to the high impact/risk recommendations, RMIT has since established ‘responding to disclosure’ face-to-face training initiatives, which have been underway since mid 2017, according to the 18 month progress report.

The high impact recommendation outlined by the AHRC aims to “identify staff members and student representatives (at RMIT) most likely to receive disclosures of sexual assault and sexual harassment”.

The report also states these high impact initiatives have been delivered to students in clubs and leadership roles, staff in frontline support, conduct roles and counselling staff.

In order to ensure students and staff are aware of support services and reporting processes for sexual assault or sexual harassment, RMIT has also strengthened their relationship with Victoria Police.

A Victoria Police representative joined the Vice-Chancellors’ Safer Campus Advisory Group during the course of the ongoing three year plan.

But the university acknowledges there are complexities involved in the process of implementing their three year framework.

RMIT University’s Change the Course plan states “sexual harm is a complex issue affecting societies around the world”.

They also acknowledge the university is constantly changing and student and staff communities often overlap, contributing to the complexities involved in implementing their three year plan.

RMIT’s three year Change the Course plan and prevention framework is available on RMIT University’s website.

Help is always available for RMIT students. Contact RMIT Connect on 9925 5000 or the afterhours RMIT Student Crisis Line on 1300 305 737 or text 0488 884 162.

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