Addressing sexual assault and harassment in higher education institutions requires sustained and decisive action and cultural change, driven from the highest levels of institutional leadership and embodied by management at all levels.
TEQSA’s update to their 2020 Good Practice Note communicates its long-term commitment to supporting cultural change and institutional transparency. It provides an opportunity to capture recent research developments and changes to educational institutions, and to showcase best practice in creating and applying policies that shift cultural norms. ATSE makes the following recommendations to strengthen the updated Good Practice Note on sexual harm in higher education:
Recommendation 1: Support institutions to meet their obligation to provide a safe learning and teaching environment by providing guidance on sexual harm risks specific to discipline and level of study.
Recommendation 2: Recommend that higher education institutions establish policies barring sexual or romantic student-supervisor relationships.
Recommendation 3: Provide guidance for governing bodies to understand their responsibility for risk management of sexual harm.
Recommendation 4: Include good practice examples of leadership accountability for cultural change, including publication of sexual harm statistics.
Recommendation 5: Align best practice higher education policies on sexual harm to interventions from high-risk sectors.
Recommendation 6: Recommend that higher education institutions establish an independent authority that can receive and address complaints of bullying and sexual harm on a confidential basis (“Safe Place”).