A landmark report has sparked activism from Western Sydney University

TAKING A STAND: Western Sydney University student Anais Carrington, of Kellyville, is calling on students to stand together and support a zero tolerance stance on sexual assault and harassment at universities.
TAKING A STAND: Western Sydney University student Anais Carrington, of Kellyville, is calling on students to stand together and support a zero tolerance stance on sexual assault and harassment at universities.

Western Sydney University student Anais Carrington believes there needs to an overhaul on the attitudes towards sexual assault and sexual harassment on university campuses.

A landmark report by the Human Rights Commission revealed that of the more than 30,000 university students surveyed, 6.9 per cent had been sexually assaulted in the past two years.

The National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities, released last week, also revealed 87 per cent of students who were assault did not make a formal complaint to their university.

Ms Carrington, of Kellyville, is a psychology student and a student ambassador for Respect Now Always.

The group aims to promote awareness about sexual assault, sexual harassment, and a zero tolerance policy on campus.

“They organise student campaigns to spread awareness about the initiative,” Ms Carrington, 24, said. “But it is part of a larger problem.” 

Ms Carrington commended her university for taking action against sexual assault and sexual harassment. 

“We have a bit of a revolving door campus, so it has been a bit difficult to engage the students,” Ms Carrington said. "However people have been getting on board. I think we still have an issue with the confidence of survivors that they will be taken seriously and be heard, as well as access to services.”

From the 618 respondents from Western Sydney University, 94 per cent of those who had experienced sexual harassment did not raise a formal report or complaint.

While 92 per cent did not seek support from the university, citing reasons including not being clear on how to do so. The university will form a taskforce to implement all nine reccommendations from the landmark report.

Led by Vice-Chancellor Professor Barney Glover, the taskforce will oversee the implementation of a range of education and support initiatives across the university, and monitor and evaluate their effectiveness.

“Sexual assault and sexual harassment are completely unacceptable and any incident of either is one too many,” Professor Glover said. “Everyone has the right to study and work in an environment that is safe and respectful.”