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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald

Call for government action over assault, harassment survey

Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison says the NSW government needs to urgently respond to the safety needs of students at university campuses, after the results of a survey released last week showed almost 18 per cent of students polled at the University of Newcastle experienced sexual harassment since beginning their studies.

The Social Research Centre's findings showed that six per cent of students at the university were sexually assaulted, the Newcastle Herald reported last week.

Of the 43,819 respondents to the 2021 National Student Safety Survey, 862 were from UON.

Ms Harrison said the report, and the numbers of the students affected, demanded an immediate response.

She is calling on the government to take action to make universities safer and is raising the issue in NSW Parliament this week.

"It was very concerning to see students were reporting they knew very little about how to report a complaint or where to seek support or assistance following an assault," she said.

"The University of Newcastle report showed more than half of the students surveyed 'know nothing or very little about where to go to make a complaint about sexual assault'.

"University education is key to our future as a hub of research and industry and it is vital all students attending a university, whether it is in Newcastle or elsewhere, are safe."

UON Vice-Chancellor Professor Alex Zelinsky said last week that the results showed the university had work to do.

"At our university we are adamant that any experience of sexual assault and sexual harassment is completely unacceptable, on or off campus," he said.

"Every member of our community has the right to feel safe.

"We are committed to ensuring a sensitive, coordinated and victim-survivor centric approach to preventing and managing incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment."

The 2021 National Student Safety Survey asked 43,819 students from 38 Australian universities about their experiences.

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