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Wed, 23 Mar 2022

National Student Safety Survey

exterior wall showing JCU logo

James Cook University has acknowledged today’s release of the findings of the 2021 National Student Safety Survey and thanked JCU students who participated in this important national research.

In 2021, Australian universities commissioned and funded the National Student Safety Survey, which collected data on the scale and nature of university student experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The survey was conducted by the Social Research Centre and provides accurate and up-to-date information to universities about what is happening in their student communities.

JCU Vice Chancellor Professor Simon Biggs said students and staff have a right to feel respected and safe, and JCU is determined to ensure its work and learning environments are free from discrimination, harassment, and violence.

“We thank our students for taking part in the survey and acknowledge the lived experience of students who have experienced sexual assault and sexual harassment.

“My message to any student or staff member who has been impacted in any way, whether that is personally, or whether you are supporting a friend, is to reach out – we can provide tailored support to enable those affected to continue studies or work, and highly confidential advice about reporting and complaint pathways both within the university and externally - you are not on your own.”

13.8% of JCU students who completed the survey experienced sexual harassment and 3.3% experienced sexual assault over the 12 months prior to September 2021. Information on JCU's results can be found here. (Please note, the Social Research Centre has advised it is not possible to directly compare the 2016 and 2021 national survey results due to changes in survey methodology.)

Professor Biggs said JCU is committed to the elimination of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

“The university is working with staff and students to create a safe and respectful environment that our community deserves.

“Our university community has very good engagement around this issue, and we are pleased to see our programs and interventions are having an impact, so that students are more comfortable and aware about coming forward to report incidents,” Professor Biggs said.

“We are encouraged to see an increase in reporting of incidents. While we want to prevent any incident of sexual harassment and sexual assault, we are encouraged by the data which suggest people are more comfortable in coming forward to report incidents.

JCU has introduced a wide range of measures in recent years to combat sexual harassment and sexual assault, enhance safety, and improve the University’s culture. These measures are detailed in the attached fact sheet (link) and include the Statement of Commitment to the Elimination of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault, the 2017 Broderick Review and implementation of all of its findings, partnerships with residential colleges and sexual assault services, engagement with the JCUSA, prevention activities including mandatory workshops and online modules, and improved policies, procedures and reporting arrangements. The CCTV camera system and lighting network have been upgraded and expanded following a review of security at JCU’s campuses.

The survey also shows JCU students were more likely to know where and how to make a complaint, seek support, and have confidence in the complaints process when compared to the national average.

  • JCU students were 87% more likely than the national average to know a lot or everything about where to go to make a complaint about sexual harassment, and 95% more likely to know a lot or everything about where to go to make a complaint about sexual assault.
  • JCU students are 74% more likely than the national average to know a lot or everything about where to go to seek support or assistance about sexual harassment, and 72% more likely for sexual assault.
  • JCU students were more confident in the university’s reporting processes for sexual harassment and sexual assault than the national average.

“Any incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment is one too many. This survey is an important step in understanding our students’ experiences and how we can better support them. We want a safe community – every student and staff member has a right to feel safe,” Professor Biggs said.

“We know our interventions are working, we have done a lot but there is always more to do. Clearly sexual harassment and sexual assault is an issue across the community, and this is reflected on our campuses.  Addressing this takes sustained and collective action.

“JCU values our partnerships with the JCU Student Association, the JCU Respect Student Reference Group, the Residential Colleges, and the Specialist Sexual Assault Support Services in Cairns and Townsville, and we will spend some time considering in-depth the NSSS report in order to inform our collective actions to prevent sexual violence,” Professor Biggs said.

Free and confidential support services are available for those who need assistance. Links to support services are available here.


For more information please contact:

Richard Davis, Head of Media and Communications, JCU

0413 451 475