Our Watch supports historic plan to end gendered violence in universities

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Author: Our Watch media team
Posted: 26 Feb, 2024
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    Our Watch has welcomed the Federal, State and Territory Education Ministers’ endorsement of the final Action Plan Addressing Gender-based Violence in Higher Education.

    This is a historic moment for progress towards ending violence in university communities – including on campus and within student accommodation.

    Currently 1 in 6 students experience sexual harassment and 1 in 20 students experience sexual assault while studying at university.

    The key recommendations include:

    • A new National Student Ombudsman.
    • A requirement for universities to deliver a whole-of-university approach to preventing gendered violence including delivering respectful relationships education and embedding respect and gender equality throughout their policies and systems.
    • A new National Code of Conduct, that includes student accommodation.

    Our Watch CEO Patty Kinnersly was appointed in August as the Expert Adviser to the Commonwealth-led Universities Accord governance Working Group that has developed the plan.

    Acting CEO Cara Gleeson said this endorsement was pivotal.

    “This plan is the result of tireless advocacy to respond to, and prevent violence and abuse in our university communities.

    “Gender-based violence is preventable if we address and challenge the root causes – gender inequality and disrespectful attitudes.

    “Pointing the finger at an individual’s behaviour is not enough, this plan is an opportunity to change the culture within a university community that says violence is excused or ignored. A culture that says women are less equal or blamed if they are abused.

    “This plan highlights the importance of universities making these changes in their systems, structures and policies.

    “This can look like developing policies that support student and staff safety, teaching respectful relationships education and supportive training for staff on gender equality.

    “This plan is a crucial step forward to ending gendered violence and ensuring Australia’s 1.5 million students and over 130,000 staff are safe and have a thriving future.”

    Media contact

    Please contact media@ourwatch.org.au or call 0448 844 930.

    If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

    1800RESPECT is the national domestic, family, and sexual violence counselling, information and support service. If you or someone you know is experiencing, or at risk of experiencing, domestic, family or sexual violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, chat online via www.1800RESPECT.org.au, or text 0458 737 732.

    To access guides for reporting about violence against women and their children, visit media.ourwatch.org.au.

    Our Watch

    Our Watch is a national leader in Australia’s work to stop violence against women and their children before it starts. The organisation was created to drive nation-wide change in the practices, norms, and structures that lead to violence against women and children.