JCU Respect: Commitment, Training, Events and Reviews

JCU has a comprehensive suite of initiatives involving staff and student communities designed to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual assault. This work is led by the Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding through the Chief of Staff, Vanessa Cannon, and is operationalised university-wide through various areas, including Student Equity and Wellbeing, Human Resources, Estate, Campus Security.

Statement of Commitment

In July 2018 the JCU Council, Executive and University Community launched an enduring Statement of Commitment

Statement of Commitment to the Elimination of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault

James Cook University is committed to fostering a community that features, at its core, respect, inclusion and safety for all. We support gender equality as a foundation for respectful relationships and an underpinning principle for change. This means a strong and enduring commitment to the elimination of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The urgent need to foster safe, respectful communities free of discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault, has gained momentum world wide. Our University recognises that need and is determined to do all we can in our community and in the communities we serve.

As an institution dedicated to education and research, and committed to the communities we serve, we have a special responsibility to critically reflect, and create the change that is required, in order that men and women enjoy equal respect free from sexual violence in all its forms.

We recognise that our values of Excellence; Authenticity; Integrity; Sustainability; Mutual Respect and Discovery can only be fully realised when the contributions of all in our community are recognised, supported and respected.

We recognise that institutional structures and individual behaviours within society, and within our own University, need to change and that change can be immensely challenging. Change requires examining deeply held beliefs and assumptions, and sustained effort.

We recognise the material circumstances of peoples’ lives matter, and that the institutions of our society need constant attention to ensure just and equitable outcomes. Without vigilance, there is risk that some people – by virtue of their identity, ethnicity, sex, abilities, resources or age – are routinely believed, supported and served whilst others are routinely marginalised, disbelieved and forgotten.

In 2017, JCU appointed Elizabeth Broderick AO, former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, to review our University's response to sexual harassment and sexual assault. We are committed to strengthening our University by implementing every recommendation of the Broderick Review.

We know that the progress we have made to date, and the progress we need to make, is not possible without the generous and courageous sharing from those who have experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault, and the commitment of all members of our community.

We are committed to strengthening gender equality and playing our part to create the safe and respectful environment that our community deserves, and look to a future when the scourge of sexual violence is comprehensively defeated.

Statement of Commitment to the Elimination of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault - PDF


Professor Deb Miles is the academic lead for JCU Respect training.  Professor Debra Miles is available to provide information to any staff or HDR candidates who would like to find out more about being involved in facilitating conversations, workshops, or training with colleagues or students about respectful relationships, bystander behaviour and the prevention of, and response to sexual harassment and sexual assault.  Training at JCU is delivered by Professor Deb Miles, Dr Peter Jones, Dr Nicole Stott-Whiting and Dr Chris Pam.

JCU Respect Student Facilitators are an integral component of JCU’s commitment to creating change.  JCU Respect Student Facilitators are students who are trained in, and passionate, about facilitating conversations for change around the issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault.  JCU Respect Facilitators are involved in the delivery of training to other students, they provide specialist support to student clubs and societies, and they directly create opportunities for formal and informal conversations.

For more information about the program please contact Dr Ryl Harrison, ryl.harrison@jcu.edu.au, tel: 4781 6259.

Testimonials from current Student Facilitators:

Sexual assault and harassment prevention and victim support systems are some of the most vital structures that a community such as a university can have in place. The opportunity I had to participate and facilitate in JCU Respect training has been personally enlightening and educational. It forced me beyond my comfort zone to discuss real and relevant issues that impact us all. There cannot be a solution to an issue such as sexual assault and harassment without communication and the open and educational discussions initiated by this training has been a leap in the right direction for sexual assault and harassment prevention at JCU. It’s been an absolute honour to have assisted in the JCU Respect training.   - Jessica Pollard, Senior Residential Assistant at The John Flynn College

I became a JCU Respect student leader in 2018 to help contribute to and support my peers. Gender inequity and sexual violence are serious issues and are prevalent at university, particularly in a college setting. As a student leader, I was able to learn more about these areas and how to best address them in my day-to-day life. I was also able to help shape the training, highlighting areas that I believed would best convey messages to the other students. Although the subject matter was challenging, I found a sense of accomplishment in talking to and in some cases, changing the perspective of my peers. The JCU Respect program is invaluable for all students and I believe it will pioneer a decrease in discrimination and sexual violence into the future. - Luke McCarthy, Senior Residential Assistance, Saints Catholic College.  5th Year / Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) – Electrical & Electronic /  Bach of Science – Physics.

The JCU Respect training is an extremely important program that will promote behavioural and attitude changes here at JCU through student education.  I chose to be a peer facilitator in this program because I am an advocate for gender equity and want to see an end to sexual harassment on campus. As a senior leader at my college I felt that I had a voice to promote change within our community, and hope I have inspired other students to do the same.  - Grace Matheson, Student, Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery, Senior Residential Assistant at The John Flynn College.

Being a student mentor for the JCU Respect Program has enabled me to help formulate the change that I always wanted to see in university culture. I felt rewarded by helping to create a safe, honest, transparent environment on campus that allowed students the opportunity to discuss stigmatised topics, further encouraged them to challenge their own thoughts and enabled them to listen to differing opinions from their peers. As a senior member of my respective college, I have always felt that awareness of an issue is the first step in eliminating it. Awareness of gender inequality and sexual misconduct is a step in the right direction for both a safer university campus and a safer society. I am beyond grateful to have been a part of this initial change and a part of the JCU Respect Program. - Lushimi Udayakumaran, MBBS Student and Residential Assistant at University Hall

JCU Respect: Recognise, Respond, Refer, Report: is an online module designed for all staff and students addressing sexual harassment and sexual assault. The module provides introductory content on recognising a problem (including basic consent/bystander behaviours), responding to disclosures by others, referring to appropriate support services, and reporting to the University and other agencies. The module is being progressively released over 2019.  For any questions about the module please contact the Vice Chancellor’s office at vc@jcu.edu.au.

JCU Respectful Relationships Training – Student Leaders is a half day practical, interactive communication training that explores issues of gender relationships and sexuality, consent and ethics in contemporary Australian society.  The training busts common myths about sexual harassment and assault – and equips you to set boundaries on your own and other people’s behaviours – as active participants and bystanders.  You will learn how to provide strong leadership in setting high expectations for behaviour in your residential college community, and also how to refer people to the right supports if needed.  Training is held in the week before O-week.

JCU Respectful Relationships Training - Residential Students is a 2.5 hour practical, interactive training that explores issues of gender relationships and sexuality, consent and ethics in contemporary Australian society.  The training busts some common myths about harassment and assault – and equips you to set boundaries on your own and other people’s behaviours – as active participants and bystanders. You will learn how to create a fun, strong and safe residential college community.  This training complements the online  JCU Respect courses, which all residential students need to have completed prior to moving onto campus. Training is held during O-Week and Week 1 and 2 of Study Period 1 and Study Period 2.

This is a higher level training on how to respond, refer, report for cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault.  It is pitched at those people most likely to be sought out because of their designated positions, including Residential College Staff; Student Facing Support Staff; Deans, Directors and Managers.  Training is 1 hour face-to-face. To enquire about the training please email vc@jcu.edu.au.

This is scenario-based training about how to respond to harassment and assault using the Delegate, Distract and Direct steps. This training will be available progressively in 2019.  To enquire about the training please email vc@jcu.edu.au.

This is higher level training specifically for those with designated responsibilities for having conversations to reset expectations around behaviour with any person who is behaving inappropriately. The training will be available later in 2019.  Enquire about the training to vc@jcu.edu.au.

This is online training, provided by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner for front line workers to help with clients experiencing technology based abuse. Anyone who works in a professional capacity to support individuals and families in family and domestic violence situations can register to use this training course.  You will need a current work email address to register.   Click here.


JCU partners with the Townsville Sexual Assault Support Service and the Cairns Sexual Assault Service to host awareness raising activiites during Sexual Violence Awareness Month.

Plans for 2019 are being finalised.

In 2018, JCU hosted the 'What were you wearing'  art installation, curated by the Townsville Sexual Assault Support Service, on the Townsville Campus.  We also participated in the Lifting the Lid on Institutional Sexual Abuse Forum held by the Cairns Sexual Assault Service.

Bri Lee is the author of Eggshell Skull - and gave the Colin Roderick Memorial Lecture in Cairns on Wednesday 17 July, and Townsville on Thursday 18 July.  Details at : https://www.jcu.edu.au/foundation-for-australian-literary-studies/colin-roderick-public-lectures

Nina Funnell, anti-sexual assault advocate and author, and winner of 2017 Walkley Our Watch award and 2017 United Nations Media Award, spoke to student leaders of The John Flynn College in February (prior to O week) and gave the keynote presentation at The John Flynn Council Dinner (attended by 240 students and guests) in May.

Sexuality, porn culture, relationships and you!

Drawing from current global literature on sexualisation, objectification and porn culture - and supported by compelling personal testimony from students – writer, speaker and campaigner Melinda Tankard Reist explored with residential college students how entrenched and normalized cultural practices contribute to a distorted view of bodies, relationships and sexuality, impacting on the development of respectful physical, emotional and social relationships between people. Melinda unpacked how the proliferation and globalization of hyper-sexual images and messages position young men to develop a sense of entitlement to the bodies of women and girls, and young women to think they exist merely for male pleasure and gratification. Melinda explored how pornography eroticises and legitimises violence against women and related young women’s experiences of sexual harassment and sexual assault in responding to this culture of objectification.

Reviews and Reports

In February 2017, JCU engaged former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick AO to comprehensively review the University’s sexual harassment and sexual assault policies and procedures, as well as the University’s culture.

Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding released the review in September 2017 and affirmed JCU's commitment to implementing strong and effective responses to sexual harassment and sexual assault, and fostering a community that features, at its core, respect, inclusion, and safety for all.

The Broderick Review Implementation Working Group was established in late 2017 and worked throughout 2018 to support JCU's response to the report. The Working Group was chaired by Distinguished Professor Helene Marsh.

Broderick Review Implementation Working Group Membership

Broderick Review Implementation Working Group Terms of Reference

Chair's Communique 1 - 15 February 2018

Chair's Communique 2 - 10 April 2018

Chair's Communique 3 - 27 April 2018

Chair's Communique 4 - 20 June 2018

Chair's Communique 5 - 27 August 2018

Chair's Communique 6 - 23 October 2018

Chair's Communique 7 - 14 December 2018

As part of its Respect. Now. Always initiative, Universities Australia commissioned the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to undertake the first national university student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The national survey results can be found on the AHRC website.  Download the JCU specific survey data and the AHRC survey methodology here.

James Cook University Vice Chancellor, Professor Sandra Harding, has responded to the findings, and has discussed the wide range of measures the University's taken to keep students and staff safe.