Charles Sturt University tackles the perils of O Week after report

ALARMING: The Red Zone report,  published last week, noted an increase in sexual assault services demand nationwide, during and immediately after O-Week events.
ALARMING: The Red Zone report, published last week, noted an increase in sexual assault services demand nationwide, during and immediately after O-Week events.

Charles Sturt University (CSU) may be one step ahead of the curb in addressing issues of sexual assault and harassment on campus. 

It comes after End Rape on Campus Australia released a 200-page document – The Red Zone Report –detailing a history of hazing, assault, harassment and bullying at some residential accommodation across the country.  

The Red Zone report – published last week – noted an increase in sexual assault services demand nationwide, during and immediately after O-Week events, with orientation weeks highlighted as “a time of pronounced vulnerability, particularly for new students”.

The week was labelled “the red zone”, following reports of increased sexual assault, hazing and alcohol consumption.

The report detailed case studies from 12 Australian universities, including CSU.

But the deputy vice-chancellor of students Jenny Roberts said the institution had already been working hard to address the challenging issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment since last year’s publication of the national report by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Change the Course.

More than 800 CSU students had responded to the commission, participating in a nation-wide survey. 

According to the report, 18 per cent of participants had been sexually harassed and more than three per cent had been sexually assaulted at university between 2015 and 2016.

“We aim to ensure the university builds on its values of safety, respect and inclusion,” Ms Roberts said.

“(We aim) to improve the way the university responds to and support supports those affected by sexual assault and sexual harassment.”

A number of initiatives include: compulsory two-hour, face-to-face consent training – Playing Right – for new students living on campus and for leaders; a dedicated website providing access to information, resources and support contacts for students, staff and the community; the establishment of a sexual assault reference group; counselling hotline and staff-specific training. 

However in light of the alarming statistics of the Red Zone Report – revealing 68 college students were raped every week in Australia and 12 per cent of rape incidences happened during O-Week, should anyone believe they are a victim of sexual assault they are urged to report the matter immediately.

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