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Reform of sexual harassment reporting procedures & policies at Australian Universities

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Over the past 3 days, two major news outlets have reported accusations of sexual harassment and systematic cover up within the Australian scientific community. These accusations are supported by 2008 data indicating that the tertiary education & teaching sector is one of the top five industries in which sexual harassment is most prevalent. Undoubtedly, the current system is failing women in academia.

Indeed, many women in academia feel unsafe, disadvantaged, vulnerable and disrespected by a culture that appear to neither condemn nor provide accountability to perpetrators of sexual harassment.

We are calling for significant reform to current University policies and procedures that - in their current form - are inadequate for victims, disclosees and witnesses of sexual harassment in academic settings.

We are recommending, but not limiting to, gender bias training for all staff including Senior Executives, the linking of process evaluation data (including victim satisfaction levels) of reporting of sexual harassment to ATHENA SWAN parameters that determines subsequent eligibility to Category 1 funding applications, as well as a Delphi consensus with experts and victims of sexual harassment in academia. The objective of this process is to identify more transparent approaches to this pervasive issue. Without such action, we believe sexual harassment and the inequality that underpins it, will continue to compromise the careers of women in the academy. 

Regards

Dr Adrienne O'Neil

Coalition Against Sexual Harassment (CASH) &

Centre for Mental Health, University of Melbourne



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