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Curtin has zero tolerance for sexual assault and sexual harassment

Media release

The Australian Human Rights Commission released its national report today: Change the course: National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.  The report is based on a survey of more than 30,000 students in Australia commissioned as part of the Universities Australia Respect. Now. Always. initiative.

Almost 1100 Curtin University students completed the survey, and others have made submissions to the Commission.

As part of the national initiative, Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry has released a report on sexual harassment and sexual assault at Curtin.


“Curtin University has zero tolerance for sexual assault and sexual harassment, and the University is committed to fully implementing the recommendations in the Commission’s report,” Professor Terry said.

“Sexual assault and sexual harassment are problems in societies around the world, and Respect. Now. Always. is an important proactive step by Australia’s universities to better understand the size of the problem within the sector and within individual institutions.”

The Curtin University report showed that:

  • 21 per cent of Curtin students who responded to the survey said they were sexually harassed in a university setting. This may have included on the campus, while travelling to or from university, at an off-campus event organised or endorsed by the university, or in university employment
  • Examples of sexual harassment in the report included a number of inappropriate behaviours such as staring or leering, sexually suggestive comments and unwelcome touching.
  • Fewer than one per cent of Curtin students said they had been sexually assaulted in a university setting.

“Although the number of students being sexually assaulted was very low, any instance of sexual assault is absolutely unacceptable,” Professor Terry said.

“The report also indicated that many students were not aware how they could seek help, how to report an incident or what the University’s policy is on these matters. As a priority, we will work with the Curtin Student Guild to clarify these issues.”

Curtin Student Guild President Liam O’Neill said: “The Curtin Student Guild intends to work closely with Curtin University to address the confronting issues raised in the report.”

The full Curtin University report can be viewed here.

“Curtin’s culture is underpinned by our values of integrity, respect, courage, excellence and impact. These values translate into all our activities, and we will provide support to any survivor of sexual assault or harassment from the University, regardless of where the incident happened, whether it can be proven or whether they wish to report it to the police,” Professor Terry said.

“I would like to thank all the students who participated for their courage in coming forward and their willingness to help us make our University safer.”

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Change the course: National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities can be found at

More information on Respect. Now. Always. and the services Curtin provides can be found online.

If you are aware of, or have experienced an incident of sexual assault or harassment, see something that shouldn’t be happening, or feel unsafe, please report it to our Safer Community Team.

Universities Australia has also established a national university support line to ensure support is available to survivors of sexual assault and harassment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It will operate from today until 30 November 2017 and is run by specialist trauma counselling service, Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia. The number is 1800 572 224.

Notes to editor:

  • The Respect. Now. Always. initiative was launched in February 2016 as a long-term, shared approach by 39 Australian universities to prevent and address sexual harassment and sexual assault in university student communities.
  • As part of its Respect. Now. Always. initiative, Universities Australia commissioned the Australian Human Rights Commission to undertake the first national university student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment.
  • The survey ran from September to November 2016 and more than 30,000 students from all Australian universities participated.
  • The link to the methodology individual report can be viewed here.
  • The full Curtin University report can be viewed here.