Online course about sexual consent for Ballarat new university students

New Federation University students will be “strongly encouraged” to undertake an online course about sexual consent.

In the wake of a damning Australian Human Rights Commission report into sexual harassment and assault on campuses, Federation University and other Australian universities are rolling out training to teach students about respectful relationships.

A screengrab from the Consent Matters online module offered at the Australian National University. 

A screengrab from the Consent Matters online module offered at the Australian National University. 

“Universities Australia is developing additional online student training for many universities, including FedUni. The training will not be compulsory in semester one but students will be strongly encouraged to participate,” said Federation University deputy vice-chancellor (student support and services) Darren Holland.

The university’s newest recruits, hundreds of first-year undergraduate students, will get their first taste of campus life next week during Orientation Week activities.

The University of Melbourne last week announced that new undergraduate students would, as part of accepting their course offer, have to complete ‘Consent Matters’, an animated online course and quiz that teaches students about boundaries, misconceptions about consent and how to intervene when witnessing sexual harassment or assault. 

Federation University deputy vice-chancellor (student support and services) Darren Holland

Federation University deputy vice-chancellor (student support and services) Darren Holland

But Mr Holland said Federation University would not introduce pre-enrolment training for students at this stage.

“Federation University Australia has extensive policies and procedures for students and staff to ensure that any instance of sexual assault or harassment is unacceptable,” Mr Holland said.

“The university operates an in-house counselling service to support our students. All counsellors have received training from the Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA).”

The university recently introduced mandatory face-to-face training for all students in leadership roles, and for front line staff.

“The university has also committed to implement all of the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission Report into sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.”

The report Change The Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities surveyed more than 30,000 university students from 39 Australian universities.

Students in Ballarat were found to be slightly safer than the national average.

The survey revealed 14 per cent of FedUni students and 24 per cent at ACU were sexually harassed at university in 2016 compared to 26 per cent nationally.

More serious sexual assault occurred to 0.6 per cent of Fed Uni students and 1.1 per cent of ACU students at university, below the national figure of 1.6 per cent.

The report also shone a light on more widespread issues, with 51 per cent of students saying they had been sexually harassed and 6.9 per cent sexually assaulted in the broader community.