Call for sex ban at Aussie universities.
Call for sex ban at Aussie universities.

Sex crackdown at Australian universities

SEX between staff and students at Australian universities may soon be banned as part of a crackdown on sexual harassment on campuses.

Universities Australia released a set of guidelines for the academic institutions, educating them on how to prevent and respond to sexual assault and harassment.

As part of the organisation's Respect. Now. Always. campaign, universities across the country are being urged to enforce a ban on any sexual contact between students and their academic supervisors.

The guidelines state that there is a higher risk for a power imbalance to occur if supervisors are engaging in sexual relations with their students.

This then throws into question the student's ability to consent if the power dynamic is shifted to a sexual relationship rather than an academic one.

The guidelines state that relationships between staff and students are unethical.
The guidelines state that relationships between staff and students are unethical.

"Sexual or romantic relationships between an academic supervisor and their student are never appropriate," the report states.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said the ban would also extend to postgraduate students completing a PhD or Masters.

"These principles make it clear - if a university academic is supervising a student, then they should not be in a romantic or sexual relationship with that student. It's a clear conflict of interest," Ms Jackson said in a statement.

"Universities understand that supervisors have power over their students. A sexual or romantic relationship that develops in that context also raises questions about capacity for consent and academic integrity."

Catriona Jackson, CEO of Universities Australia, is urging universities to take up the ban.
Catriona Jackson, CEO of Universities Australia, is urging universities to take up the ban.

The push follows last year's explosive report by the Human Rights Commission that revealed more than 50 per cent of Australian university students experienced sexual harassment in 2016.

Of those, one in five experienced unwanted sexual attention at a university setting, such as on campus, at an off-campus event organised by or endorsed by the university, or at university employment.

Each university has a choice whether or not to follow the suggested guidelines and implement a ban, but Universities Australia is pushing hard for the change to be adopted.

"They have been designed to protect the safety and wellbeing of both students and staff," Ms Jackson said.

Results of the Australian Human Rights Commission report. Picture: Australian Human Rights Commission
Results of the Australian Human Rights Commission report. Picture: Australian Human Rights Commission

Under the ban, if a staff member begins a sexual relationship with a student they are supervising then they must be removed from all academic roles relating to the student.

Many universities already have similar policies that require a professor to be removed from a supervision role over a student if they are engaging in a romantic relationship together.

The report suggested that universities establish co-supervisory arrangements to protect students from possible unwanted sexual advances from staff they may be working closely with.

President of the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations, Natasha Abrahams, said the guidelines recognise how the power balance can be used to manipulate students.

"These principles recognise that postgraduate research students rely heavily on their supervisors for success in their studies and in their research career," Ms Abrahams said.

"We now have a united viewpoint across the sector that romantic relationships between supervisors and students are unethical, just like any other power-imbalances relationship such as that between a doctor and their patient."



Campaign launched to tackle illegal fishing in CQ

premium_icon Campaign launched to tackle illegal fishing in CQ

A NEW compliance and education campaign is calling on Gladstone residents and...

Chance of repeat rain for later this week

premium_icon Chance of repeat rain for later this week

We’ve been told not to expect much but Gladstone could see a repeat of Saturday’s...

IN COURT: 63 people to appear at Gladstone today

premium_icon IN COURT: 63 people to appear at Gladstone today

EACH day, a number of people appear in Gladstone court on a range of different...