Last Week Al Jazeera released a documentary titled ‘Australia: Rape on Campus’ which focuses on the experiences of international student survivors of sexual assault. The Human Rights Commission’s ‘Change the Course’ report found that five percent (or 7665) of international students are sexually assaulted each year, with more than a quarter of incidents happening in a university setting.
Some international students are afraid to report sexual violence due to social isolation, fear they will be blamed for their assault, and due to the belief that their student visa may be affected. The threat of visa cancellation is often used by abusers.
Al Jazeera also highlighted the results of a Freedom of Information investigation that found 575 sexual misconduct complaints to universities had resulted in only six expulsions. Many perpetrators were given apology letters and even a $40 fine as punishment. It is heartbreaking that cases of plagarism have been treated much more seriously than sexual assault.
The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 requires universities to give overseas students information about living and studying in Australia, including information about safety on campus and while living in Australia. Education providers must comply with the National Code to maintain their registration to provide education services to overseas students.
It is a atrocious that universities are not giving this vital information to international students and are failing to meet basic legal requirements. It is time for the government to step in and take actions against universities who are failing to act on student safety. If you wish to be involved in the campaign against sexual assault, please get in contact with the SRC Women’s Officers and join the Women’s Collective.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or email@example.com.
Nina Dillon-Britton and Yuxuan Yang
Last week, the SRC submitted its final submission for SSAF funding. If that sentence doesn’t mean anything to you, let me explain. The SRC as well as other student organisations on campus like the USU (which runs clubs and societies), SUPRA (which is the postgraduate student representative organisation) and SUSF (which does sport and fitness?? I guess) is funded by the University. Students pay for that indirectly through your Student Services and Amenities Fee, which is about $150 each semester.
That money is crucial for everything the SRC does: like printing this paper, providing the largest legal and casework service at Sydney University (for free!!) and launching campaigns that fight for student interests.
Amongst other things we’ve asked the uni for funding for this year is an additional research officer to help us understand student problems and create solutions for them; more outreach events so students know about services available to them and an increase the amount student office bearers (including the editors of this rag) are paid so they are more in line with how much the office bearers of other organisations are paid and they can do their jobs without as much financial strain.
The SRC’s services are vital to creating a vibrant student life, by providing a safety to students in trouble, letting students be informed about what is happening at uni (again, here in Honi) and by fighting back when the government or the uni tries to fuck you over.
It’s very easy to be cynical about student-led organisations. But they’re student-led for a reason: no one represents student interests like students. The government and the university pump money out of students in every way they can by making it harder for you to graduate, charge exorbitant fees to international students and cutting funding to your degree.
Moves by other student organisations to let the university run them need to be opposed because it’s just another way for the university to silence opposition when they make decisions that fuck over students. Student unions need to stay in student hands.
Jessica Syed and Maddy Ward
The mid-semester break has been as busy for students as the past few weeks have been for those who have been pushing for safe access zones around abortion clinics in New South Wales. The amendment to the current Summary Offences Act, proposed by Penny Sharpe MLC, would make it so that it would be a criminal offence to protest within one hundred and fifty metres of any NSW abortion clinic. This would alleviate the intimidation and harassment patients are subject to when going to abortion clinics, when there are hoards of pro-life protesters attempting to stop them from entering the facilities. It would also get rid of the unnecessary burden placed on clinic staff to counsel and reassure patients, something that they are not necessarily paid (nor qualified) to do.
Abortion is an issue of public health, and access to abortion clinics an issue of public safety. No one should be precluded from accessing essential healthcare due to strangers intruding on their personal space, in order to voice their opinions. The successful passage of the proposed bill is an important stepping stone in building a solid and visible movement around abortion rights. In our opinion, it will inevitably open the door to decriminalisation of abortion in New South Wales (yes, that’s right – you could still be prosecuted for having an abortion).
Your officers have been in contact with Family Planning NSW who are currently looking at drafting a decriminalisation bill along with other feminist groups. More pressing, however, is our correspondence with Penny herself. In a conference call last week, she informed us that the bill will be introduced and debated within the next month. Keep your eyes peeled for actions organised by the Wom*n’s Collective that you can get involved in helping the bill get passed. If you’re a Liberal/conservative/et cetera, and you’re against abortion, and you’re reading this: while this bill is linked to abortion, it largely revolves around women’s safety. If you can’t get behind that, well, there’s not much we can say to you. Otherwise, get in touch with your MPs, and get them on our side, please!
To help, sign the petition http://www.pennysharpe.com/womenneedsafeaccesszones. Or even better, join the Wom*n’s Collective if you identify as a wom*n or non-binary person, by hitting us up at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a weekly clinic escort service where (until the legislation comes through) we assist patients into abortion clinics past pro-life protestors, and generally do feminist things as well. We are also doing our own edition of Honi Soit later this semester. Send your ideas to the aforementioned email! We can’t wait to get the ball rolling.
International Student Officers
Mengwei Yuan, Yi Man, Zimiao Gao and Zhuonan Li
In the past weeks, we interacted with students mainly in the form of the network. We have taken over the daily administration of ‘USYD International Students Collective’ page on Facebook from former international officers. It is great to see that students share the events held by the university or associations on this platform with each other. As international officers, we give some advice to newly enrolled students based on our previous experience as well.
The basic preparation for Opal campaign is still going on to fight for concession card for international students. Our student representatives in SRC are communicating with other universities in Sydney to form a stronger power to push it forward.
In addition, to help students relax from the busy study and have an unforgettable memory of studying abroad in Sydney, we are trying to cooperate with some clubs and societies such as Unimates to organise some exciting events. Join us to have an enjoyable trip of Port Stephens at the end of this semester!