WIMMERA university students have a lower risk of sexual harassment and assault than students at big-city universities, a landmark study has revealed.
The Human Rights Commission released Change The Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities, the result of a survey of more than 30,000 university students from 39 Australian universities.
Students at Federation University were less likely to be victims of sexual harassment and assault than the national average.
The survey revealed 14 per cent of Federation University students were sexually harassed in 2016 compared with 26 per cent nationally.
The university’s Wimmera campus covers Horsham, Stawell and Ararat.
University vice-chancellor Helen Bartlett said the university was committed to preventing sexual assault and harassment.
“The survey, commissioned by Universities Australia, includes some distressing testimonies which make difficult reading,” she said.
“I thank those students who participated in the survey. The issues are confronting and it takes courage to speak truthfully.”
Survey results for revealed 39 per cent of Federation University students reported sexual harassment in in 2016.
Fourteen per cent reported sexual harassment at university, while 4.7 per cent reported being sexually assaulted in 2015-16 and 0.6 per cent reported being sexually assaulted at the university.
Professor Bartlett said now was the time to look to the future and take action to prevent incidences of sexual assault and harassment in university student communities. The university has already implemented a number of initiatives, including training for residential and other student leaders about witnessing, responding and reporting incidences of sexual assault or harassment.
“We will continue to work to reduce sexual assault and harassment through education, action and information,” Professor Bartlett said.