Skip To Content

    Here's What Sexual Assault Survivors And Students Have To Say Before The Landmark Report On Campus Sexual Assault

    A report on campus sexual assault, to be released August 1, is expected to rock Australia's university sector.

    On August 1 the Australian Human Rights Commission will release a report into sexual assault and harassment on university campuses.

    The highly-anticipated report is expected to reveal the extent of sexual assaults on campuses across Australia.

    Advocates hope it will improve how universities respond to incidents of sexual assault and harassment.

    Advocacy group End Rape On Campus (EROC) has released a public photo campaign ahead of the report, featuring messages from sexual assault survivors and students across Australia.

    The photo campaign was created by EROC ambassador Nina Funnell, who is a sexual assault survivor and advocate, and journalist.

    Funnell said the campaign was to remind people that "Each statistic that comes out in that report, that’s a real person that that’s happened to".

    "We are also concerned that over coming weeks, the voices, perspectives and experiences of students and survivors may be drowned out or sidelined while vice chancellors and university representatives dominate the press, to shore up the reputations of their institutions."

    "We wanted to make sure the faces of students and survivors don't get lost amidst the glossy press statements and the announceables," Funnell told BuzzFeed News.

    "What we're trying to do is highlight and foreground this is ultimately about students, and all individuals should be entitled to an education free of sexual violence and free of the fear of sexual violence," Funnell said.

    The campaign, inspired by Project Unbreakable, a U.S. sexual assault photography project, initially intended to show survivors holding up what their university or institution first said to them when they reported their assault.

    However, Funnell said, organisers quickly realised there were a lot of other messages people wanted included in the discussion, so they opened it up to hear all messages from survivors and their supporters alike.

    All 39 Australian universities have pledged to release individual campus data from the survey, which canvassed over 35,000 students across Australia.

    In the past five years, more than 500 official complaints of sexual assault and harassment were made to universities, according to data released by EROC earlier this year.

    From 2011 to 2016, 575 formal complaints of sexual harassment or assault - including 145 rape allegations – were reported across 27 universities, the data, based on multiple Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, found.

    Records obtained under FOI also showed that in the same 2011-2016 period 153 sexual assaults were reported to police from the addresses of universities in NSW, the ACT, Victoria and WA.

    Only six students were expelled over the allegations.

    Last week, a number of students and sexual assault survivors dragged mattresses up to Parliament House in Canberra to stage a protest against sexual assault at university.

    The people at the mattress protest had a list of 12 demands including: a permanent 1800 hotline that deals specifically with sexual misconduct at universities; on-campus reporting and support services with specialist trauma counsellors; greater education for students and staff on consent and bystander training; and an overhaul of reporting procedures to make them more accessible and "survivor-friendly".