An independent report into the culture of UWA colleges has been released examining the experiences of UWA’s College residents in 2018. The report on the College Row Cultural Review, was published by the University of Western Australia yesterday but, at this stage, there appears to be no formal announcement of the upload.

 

The report based on the findings of the 2018 review was conducted in response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2016 Change the Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in Australia’s Universities report. 

 

The College Row Cultural Review 2018 primary focus was to assess and address multiple issues contributing to sexual misconduct in The University of Western Australia’s “College Row”. Amongst other factors, it explored incidents of bullying, hazing, alcohol, drugs and training. The review surveyed all five residential colleges and accommodation including St Catherine’s, College, St George’s College, St Thomas More College, Trinity and University Hall. 

 

Although College Row houses approximately 2000 plus students, only 350 residents responding to the of 204-question online survey that informed the report. Additionally, only 7 students were interviewed about their experiences. Accordingly, the report stated that the data presented “should not be considered representative of the total College Row Resident population.” The data collected does not make distinctions between the responses from different Colleges.

 

The report details eight key recommendations along with the suggested actions for colleges to implement. The areas for suggested reform included leadership and governance, policy, responses to sexual misconduct, support services, event planning and management, safety and security and broader institutional reform.

 

The report stated that 97.1% of Residents feel safe living at their colleges and that 93.4% of Residents believe supervision is adequate. Additionally, it states that just 39.3% of events held at College Row had an Event Management Plan. The report did not measure the number of students sexually assaulted or harassed, only including reports made to student leaders. This could perhaps indicate that residential students are more likely to disclose complaints to people other than formal leadership within the college.

 

In a statement to Pelican, College Resident and Women’s Officer to the Guild Bre Shanahan said:

 

The purpose of the Review was to explore a range of issues related to sexual harassment and sexual assault, yet the report provides no data on prevalence within colleges. Best practice supports a survey using behaviour-based questions, not a reliance on disclosure, to establish the rate, as sexual misconduct is notoriously under-reported.

 

The key finding of this report in almost every area is inconsistency in content and level of detail of College policy, in terms of sexual misconduct, bullying and hazing. These policies vary between Colleges, and with corresponding university policies. Fundamentally, there is a very low level of accountability placed on these colleges by the university. Of the complaints received by colleges, over 70% were resolved by internally at the college without input from the University. We find this disconnect concerning.

 

The Women’s Department, in partnership with the Residential Students Department, hopes to work closely with the university over the coming months to ensure Colleges are held to account and these recommendations are fulfilled”. 

 

With regards to policy redevelopment within Colleges, the report recommends that each College establish a policy on sexual misconduct, alcohol, drugs, bullying, harassment and discrimination independent from other Colleges.

 

The report ultimately found “no evidence of a systematic cultural problem within The University of Western Australia’s College Row”. 

 

The College Row Cultural Review 2018 report can be accessed here. Content warning: this report references incidents of sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying.

Words by the Pelican Editorial Team. 


 If you have experienced sexual assault or harassment and would like to speak to someone for support or information, the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (08 6458 182) can provide counselling or a 24-hour  emergency line for recent sexual assault (1800 199 888 free from landline).