What does the National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities (2017) mean for International Students?

The Australian Human Rights Commission released the National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities (2017) yesterday that provides greater insight into the nature, prevalence and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities.

With a quantitative and qualitative methodology, the report reveals that international students were not aware, or were less aware than domestic students, of the procedures that exist for formally reporting sexual assault or sexual harassment at their university. The below table takes data from the report and compares the experiences and situation of international students with their domestic counterparts.

Table 1: Survey results for students from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds and international students in comparison to domestic students

Issues around identifying sexual harassment was particularly prevalent for international students with inadequate knowledge of what constitutes acceptable cultural and social behaviours. For example, the Commission received submissions from international students who did not know whether the behaviours they experience are sexual harassment or just a part of Australian culture.

Concern around the impact of reporting on international students’ studies and visa status was also communicated to the Commission and included in the report through qualitative quotes.

“I didn’t report it to the police because I was scared this could affect my future visa conditions in this country.”

To read the full report, please go to http://www.humanrights.gov.au/our-work/sex-discrimination/publications/change-course-national-report-sexual-assault-and-sexual