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Keeping uni students safe must be a priority: Harrison

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Charlestown state MP Jodie Harrison is calling on the NSW Government to urgently respond to the safety needs of university students on campus.

Sadly, it’s a subject that affects many people here in the Hunter.

The Social Research Centre was funded to conduct the 2021 National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) to collect data on the scale and nature of uni pupil experiences of sexual harassment and assault.

The report, led by violence prevention expert Dr Anastasia Powell, was released last week.

And, shockingly, it revealed almost 18% of those surveyed at the University of Newcastle experienced sexual harassment since starting at the campus and 6% were victims of sexual assault.

Ms Harrison said the findings were part of a very concerning “all-round picture” for the nation’s educational institutes.

“The NSSS showed one in six students surveyed had been sexually harassed and 1 in 20 had been sexually assaulted since beginning university,” she explained.

“Pupils in the LGBTIQ+ community were over-represented in both demographics.”

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

“It was very concerning to see pupils were reporting they knew very little about how to report a complaint or where to seek support or assistance following an assault,” she stated.

“University of Newcastle also indicated more than half of the students surveyed ‘know nothing or very little about where to go to make a complaint about sexual assault’.

“Uni education is key to our future as a hub of research and industry.

“So, it is vital all pupils attending a university, whether it is in Newcastle or elsewhere, are safe.

“I’m calling on Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Natalie Ward to urgently respond to this survey and put actions in place to make NSW universities safer.”

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