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New College Response To The Australian Human Right...


New College response to the Australian Human Rights Commission Report Recommendation 9

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) was recently commissioned to undertake a national survey of university students to gain greater insight into the nature, prevalence and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities. The final report was publically released on 1 August 2017.

New College has moved promptly to respond to the AHRC Report and, specifically, its Recommendation 9, as follows:

  1. Receipt and review of relevant documents from the AHRC and UNSW.
  2. Receipt of submissions from the New College Students Association and New College Alumni encouraging the college administration to address the concerns raised by the AHRC in a timely manner.
  3. Preparation of a preliminary response to Recommendation 9.
  4. Consultation with interested stakeholders: UNSW, Alumni, the New College Students Association and the Sydney Anglican Diocese.
  5. Independent review of the present college policies and practices.
  6. Improvement of the present college policies and practices for the 2018 academic year.
  7. Finalisation of a response to key stakeholders for the 2018 academic year
  8. Publication of review outcomes.

There will be ongoing annual review of our intentions, policies and practices in relation to possible sexual misconduct prior to each academic year.

The specific matters raised by the AHRC as requiring a formal response are addressed as follows.

  • appropriate responses by a college or university residence to reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment

Our process for dealing with any allegation of sexual misconduct is summarised in Section 6 of the preliminary response. Our harassment and critical incident policies have been upgraded following review prompted by this instruction.

  • a trauma-informed and rights-based approach in a situation in which an allegation of sexual assault has been made

New College’s processes were already trauma-informed and rights-based. Our documentation and training have been upgraded to make this explicit.

  • The ways that hazing practices and college ‘traditions’ facilitate a culture which may increase the likelihood of sexual violence

Hazing is a form of harassment and is forbidden as stated in our policy. O’Week and other social activities are carefully scrutinised for any evidence of hazing practice.

  • The role of alcohol in facilitating a culture which may increase the likelihood of sexual violence

Alcohol is forbidden within New College. Appropriate controls are applied to consumption of alcohol in NCV.

Responsible service of alcohol is a key element of risk assessment associated with any relevant external college social activity.

Incoming resident training has been upgraded to highlight the influence of alcohol in poor decision making in personal relationships.

  • the level and nature of supervision in a twenty-four hour residential setting in which large numbers of young people are living away from home, and

Residential Advisers, Senior Residents and Deans all reside within the college buildings. These staff monitor the college environment and are immediately accessible to any resident via mobile phone. Out of office hours, an RA or SR is designated as being on duty to respond immediately to any need. All incoming residents are provided with the mobile phone numbers of the Master and relevant Dean.

  • the level and adequacy of training required to equip residential advisors to serve as first responders or in response to matters of sexual assault and harassment.

Residential advisor training takes place over three days prior to the commencement of each academic year with a specific focus on the possibility of sexual misconduct with guidance on how to encourage disclosure of any form of harassment or misconduct.

Deans are trained as first responders. Any allegations or incidents of sexual misconduct are immediately referred to the Dean, or the Master in the Dean’s absence.

All documents relevant to this review process are available publically and can be downloaded from the links below.