CSU's 'Playing Right' wins national award, and is going global

AWARD WINNER: Isabel Fox, who devised the Playing Right program, is taking the program to the United States later this month, after it won Best of Program in the recent Australian Pacific Student Accommodation Association Awards.
AWARD WINNER: Isabel Fox, who devised the Playing Right program, is taking the program to the United States later this month, after it won Best of Program in the recent Australian Pacific Student Accommodation Association Awards.

A TRAINING program developed in the Central West that aims to improve sexual relationships on university campuses and bystander response skills is going global.

Playing Right was chosen as the Best of Program at the recent Australian Pacific Student Accommodation Association [APSAA] Awards.

It was launched this year by Charles Sturt University, which developed the unique face-to-face training for key student groups as part of the university’s zero tolerance approach to sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The program was part of a presentation at the APSSA Conference late last month where it was chosen as “Best of Program”.

Subsequently its creator, Isabel Fox, has been invited to present to the program at an international college and university housing conference [acuho-i] in Denver later this month. 

Playing Right is part of the university’s commitment to an affirmative response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) national report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities which was released in August 2017.

Isabel Fox, Student Initiative Co-ordinator, Residence Life, at Charles Sturt University said what sets Playing Right is its ability to relate to its target audience.

In its pilot year 1500 students across six campuses have undertaken the two hour face-to-face and interactive program.

“It talks to the students in their own language, it’s sex positive, there is no judgement and no assumptions … the message is we don’t care what game you’re playing as long as everyone plays by the rules,” she said.

Experts from mental health, NSW Police, 1800 Respect and other key agencies were brought in to devise the program, which Ms Fox says makes the program more relatable.

“It cuts through the talk… it’s not the uni talking or the police talking police speak, it’s fun and positive.”

A core concept of the program is around enthusiastic and informed consent with it’s catch cry “it’s not a yes unless it’s a hell yes”.

The program also educates about bystander response.

“It tells them if you see something that’s not okay, step in and say ‘that’s not cool’.”

Ms Fox said research shows that if people are aware of the boundaries, they are less likely to break the rules and when it comes to consent, many feel there is a grey area. “We say there is no grey area … if it’s not a ‘hell yes’ it’s a no.” 

She said the program was quite innovative in that it educates bystanders about stepping in and stopping the perpetrator.

Ms Fox said she was stoked with its success.

“We’re really proud of what we’ve done,” she said.

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