National sexual assault survey results to be released in August

The results have been delayed in response to concerns about the planned May release date.

Students protested Open Day by carrying mattresses decrying the University response to sexual harrassment. Students protested Open Day in 2016 by carrying mattresses decrying the University response to sexual harrassment. Image: Nina Dillon Britton

Results from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) nation-wide survey into sexual assault and harassment on university campuses will be released on Tuesday, August 1, 2017.

The joint survey between the AHRC and Universities Australia (UA) will shed light on the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment on university campuses and how universities have dealt with cases.

The initial release date the AHRC had proposed was May 31.

However, a number of students and activists raised concerns that this would coincide with university exams and holidays on some campuses, both times when counselling services are difficult to access.

“It was ridiculous to suggest releasing the report at a time when anxiety levels are already running high and campus support services are stretched to full capacity,” said University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council Wom*n’s Officer Imogen Grant.

Following consultation with student representatives and the announcement of the August 1 date, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins said: “Based on [student] advice, we are releasing the report at a time when most students are on campus to ensure that those who need support can access services through their universities”.

The new release date will be the second day of semester two at USyd.

National Union of Students (NUS) National Women’s Officer Abby Stapleton told Honi, “We are very pleased that that the date has been moved back”.

“The announcement has come as a result of the tireless work of student activists on campus who made it known that the survey needed to be released at a time when students had prime access to support services,” she added.

Though the University of Canberra will still be closed on August 1, Stapleton told Honi, “the commission has assured NUS that additional services will be made available to UC students during this time”.

Though the data from individual campuses will not be made public by the AHRC, Honi reported earlier this month that all universities around Australia, including USyd, had committed to releasing their results.

The Commission has confirmed this will occur on the same day as they release their national report, which will be available to the public.

The Commission has also committed to including recommendations, with Jenkins adding in her statement, “The information we have gathered will allow us to make strong findings and clear recommendations to universities”.

Edit: an earlier version of this article said that results would not be made public by the AHRC. This referred to institutional-level data results. The national report will be released publicly.