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University Of Adelaide Reveals Number Of Sexual Harassment Complaints

University of Adelaide reveals number of sexual harassment complaints

The University of Adelaide received more than 50 reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment since the beginning of 2018.

ABC News obtained the figures following the sexual harassment scandal involving former vice Chancellor Peter Rathjen.

University of Adelaide reveals number of complaints

The data shows the university received a total of 52 reports from 2018 until September 2020.

However, the figures do not indicate:

  • how many resulted in a referral to the police;
  • how many resulted in further investigation by the university; and
  • the results of any such investigations. 

Some involved students complaining about staff, while others involved staff complaining about other staff members.


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Number of incidents ‘astonishingly low’

Despite the data, newly appointed chancellor Catherine Branson recently told a staff forum the incidents of harassment are “astonishingly low”:

“The number of complaints of sexual assault and sexual harassment arising at this university is astonishingly low … I think it’s five in total over the last number of years.

“I understand, of course, that there may well, indeed there probably are, incidents that have not been reported.

“We need to establish a cultural change at this university.”

Earlier this year, a corruption commission investigation found former vice chancellor Peter Rathjen guilty of serious misconduct 

The investigation found Rathjen inappropriately groped and kissed female staff at a work function in Sydney.

Ms Branson claims the university has now improved its policies and procedures relating to reports of sexual assault and harassment.

“All claims of sexual harassment or similar complaints against staff members must now be directed, under our processes, to the university’s General Counsel, rather than to the head of human resources.

“Council has resolved, and made it publicly known that it has resolved, to bring in an independent expert specialist to review all of our policies and processes and procedures to see where they let us down.”

Zero tolerance

A spokesperson for the university said in a statement it has “zero tolerance for sexual harassment and assault”.

“We are determined to reduce its incidence and support those affected.

“The university always encourages victims of criminal conduct to make a report to SAPOL and offers support, no matter where the incident has occurred.”

The spokesperson also said it is reviewing its policies, procedures and guidelines relating to sexual harassment and sexual assault, as a result of the ICAC findings and recommendations.

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