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TEQSA publishes review of higher education sector’s response to sexual assault

25 January 2019

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has released its review into the Australian higher education sector’s response to tackling the issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The review has found Australian universities to be moving in a positive direction, with significant work being undertaken to ensure student wellbeing and safety are both enhanced and protected, and that relevant standards are being effectively upheld.

TEQSA chief executive Anthony McClaran said that the launch of Universities Australia’s Respect. Now. Always campaign, the release of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) Change the Course report and the experiences of students, have resulted in widespread reform in the university sector.

“TEQSA acknowledges the survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and is committed to ensuring that this review, and both the agency’s and sector’s future work on the issue, keeps student wellbeing and safety at the forefront of Australian higher education”, said Mr McClaran.

“Now that TEQSA has a clear picture of what the sector says it is doing to tackle sexual assault and sexual harassment, the agency’s future work will focus on ensuring that these measures are being put into practice on the ground, and building capacity where needed”.

TEQSA’s review found that 95 per cent of Australian universities reported that they have adopted the recommendations of the AHRC’s Change the Course report, and that 93 per cent had indicated recent reviews of sexual assault and sexual harassment policies that were in place to help them deal with the issues.

The review also looked at how independent and TAFE higher education providers were addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment, with the agency’s analysis showing significant work is still required.

TEQSA has begun the process of ensuring the measures reported are being effectively implemented, with student wellbeing and safety standards now assessed during all applications for renewal of registration, and the handling of complaints regarding providers’ responses to grievances regarding cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment being the responsibility of a new, dedicated Compliance and Investigations Team.

The agency’s report presents an analysis of responses made to TEQSA by Australian higher education providers at the request of the previous Minister for Education and Training to outline how they were addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment in their operations. The report, which has been submitted to the current Minister, builds on these responses with a comprehensive review of publicly available information on the issue, sourced from the websites of 168 providers.

Key findings

Key findings of review of higher education sector’s response to sexual assault

More information

 

Media enquiries

Raphael May, Assistant Director, Communications: raphael.may [at] teqsa.gov.au, 0437 143 012 or (03) 8306 2536