Universities Australia Chair Professor David Lloyd said signatories of the Charter are committed to combatting this major societal problem because rates in the community remain unacceptably high.
“Sexual harm is abhorrent and has no place in our society, which is why we’re committed to taking stronger action,” Professor Lloyd said.
“We need to do more to combat the scourge – universities, governments, schools and businesses all working together because, collectively, we can do better by the people in our communities.
“This Charter will drive new and improved measures to build on the many initiatives already in place at organisations across the nation.
“We’ve listened and we’re acting. It’s what everyone needs and deserves.”
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said universities work every day to support individuals and keep them safe, but more needs to be done.
“As a sector we have not shied away from dealing with sexual harm – we are not sitting still in the face of this major societal issue,” Ms Jackson said.
“Our commitment to do more to support and protect individuals shows the seriousness with which universities are treating this scourge and our commitment to address it.
“We need other organisations to come on board with us – we can’t do it alone.
“We call on all sectors – governments, schools, businesses, workplaces and the media – to commit to this Charter so that, collectively, we can work to change our society for the better.”
Signatories of Universities Australia’s Charter on sexual harm commit to:
- Strengthening, developing and implementing policies that make clear that sexual harm is unacceptable, acting against any violations of those policies, and taking allegations seriously, regardless of the seniority or status of the person against whom a claim is made.
- Clearly educating and informing our communities of where and how to report incidents of sexual misconduct, sexual harm, sexual assault or sexual harassment and how to best access support.
- Providing support to all people who report sexual harm and victims of sexual harm, including through providing access to trauma-informed and culturally appropriate support services, enabling confidential disclosure mechanisms and supporting those who choose to report to the police.
- Providing clear and easily accessible processes for anyone who chooses to make a report seeking appropriate action against any members of our organisations.
- Ensuring that our processes for investigating and resolving such complaints follow procedural fairness and are timely, fair to all parties, and, to the greatest extent possible, don’t re-traumatise people who report sexual harm or victims of sexual harm.
- Providing information on how to access an independent review of our process and work in good faith with such independent reviews.
- Publicly reporting annually on the number of reported instances of sexual harm in our organisations.
- Proactively collecting robust data about occurrences of sexual harm in our organisations and the effectiveness of our reporting and support systems.
- Working collectively in a research-informed manner to better understand and assist in addressing the prevalence of sexual harm in our wider society and to develop evidence-based approaches for its elimination.
The Charter is available here.