In an attempt to encourage safe relationships between students, and people in general, the University of Melbourne will be asking new student to complete an online sexual harassment course.
The university has said that it will be a requirement for students to complete the 90-minute online course in order to accept their offer. The course has been developed by Australian and UK academics and contains a variety of quizzes and cartoon scenarios.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University, Professor Richard James, said that the evidence-based course was designed to “strengthen the university’s culture, policies and practices”.
The course aims to teach students about the rights and wrongs of sexual relationships and to develop a better understanding of how to participate in a safe and respectful relationship. Whilst the majority of cases may be geared towards women, the course does incorporate the reverse and highlights the need have an elevated level of respect for sexual partners.
The course has also been taken up by a number of other leading universities around Australia including the University of Sydney, Adelaide University, UniSA and Flinders University. In addition to the quizzes and scenarios, the course also provides advice for students completing it and goes beyond sex itself delving into respectful and safe relationships in general.
The announcement of the e-learning course comes following numerous reports stating the effect that sexual harassment and assault is having on university students in the current era.
There have been a number of cases over the last two years highlighting the potential for sexual harassment to occur inside universities with specific reference to University colleges.
A number of top colleges around the country have been asked to conduct compulsory information’s sessions on sexual harassment and respecting women. Most of this comes following Elizabeth Broderick’s cultural assessment of Sydney University in 2017.
One report last year stated that there was approximately one in every five university students being sexually harassed in 2016 whether that was on campus, on their journey to and/or from campus or at a university-related event.
1.6% of students have also been found to have been sexually assaulted in the last 2 years from a Human Rights Commission report.