As part of O-Week inductions, all 115 students living on campus at CSU Port Macquarie were required to take part in a program designed at facilitating conversations around sexual assault on campus, on Saturday, February 24.
In response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) national report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities, released in August 2017, all students living on campus at Charles Sturt University campuses undertook mandatory sexual harassment and consent workshops during O-Week.
The unique face-to-face training, called Playing Right, was aimed at improving communication about sexual relationships and skills in bystander response, and student initiatives coordinator, and facilitator of the program, Isabel Fox, said that from the feedback received so far students are glad such a program exists.
“The program really came about as a direct result from the national report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities, and it has been rolled out to all students who are living on our CSU campuses during O-Week,” Ms Fox said.
“It is the first of its kind for Charles Sturt but from the students who have taken part in the workshop we have only received positive feedback.”
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The Playing Right program is a two-hour, face-to-face training covering sex, sexuality, gender, consent, and how students can support others if they are a bystander when an incident occurs.
It aims to reduce rates of sexual harassment and sexual assault experienced by university students by identifying a student’s responsibilities and rights when it comes to sex and what the options are if the student experiences any form of sexual violence.
“The program is a sexual consent program and is really targeted at preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus and students being able to identify that kind of behaviour anywhere in their lives, and learning what to do to stop it,” she said.
Co-facilitator John Martin said the students would take a number of key ideas from the session including what the law states about sexual assault.
“We talk about what the law actually says, they will also learn facts and figures from the Changing the Course report which is why we are running this program, how to negotiate consent and how to deal with having sex if that is what they want to do,” Mr Martin said.
“The other thing they will lean is if they find themselves in a bystander situation what to do to assist someone, and who to report the incident to.”
ResLife coordinator at CSU Port Macquarie, Meredith Gibson, said this program was all part of taking an active approach to up-skilling students.
“This year we are really passionate about making sure students have a good time on campus but also have the skills to deal with life when it comes their way,” Ms Gibson said.
“This is just one of the programs that we will hold for students over the year.”
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CSU deputy vice-chancellor (students) Jenny Roberts said the workshops form a key part in the university’s zero tolerance approach to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
“This remains an important issue for the University. Sexual assault is a crime. Sexual harassment is not acceptable,” Ms Roberts said.
“This program developed by Charles Sturt University staff will improve the opportunity for us to have greater impact about issues of communication, consent and relationships, with our new students who need that extra level of support and guidance in navigating the transition to on-campus life.
“We want all Charles Sturt University students to be able to enjoy their time at university and have fun, but above all be safe and at all times respectful.”