Friday, September 02, 2016
150 submissions about sexual assault or harassment at Australian universities
With lots of juicy young people thrown together what else would you expect? The real surprise is that there are only 150 claims out of a million or more students. And what do the do-gooders want to do about it? Have every male student tracked 24/7? It's a complete absurdity. You can't outlaw human nature. Talk about campus rape is a huge fashion in the Anglosphere these days but evidence that it is unusual for the age group always seems to be missing
150 “deeply disturbing” submissions about sexual assault or harassment at Australian universities have already been received by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), one week after launching its landmark survey into sexism on campus.
For the first time, the AHRC are surveying samples of students from Australia’s 39 universities, and have also invited all students to anonymously share their experiences of sexual assault or harassment in an online submission.
President of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs told Hack that she’s already shocked by the submissions that are trickling in.
“The survey launched only 5 or 6 days ago, and we’re already getting unprecedented submissions from the public, from students.
“We’ve had about 150 submissions, and they are deeply disturbing. They range from the internet harassment kinds of stalking, to profoundly serious matters, which are criminal.”
Gillian Triggs said some of the respondents reported being dragged out of a car and raped; being sexually assaulted; experiencing inappropriate sexual movements; or having their clothes taken off them at a party.
“It’s almost as if the dam is bursting, people want to talk about this.”
Gillian Triggs told Hack she believes people feel more comfortable talking about assault and harassment in a confidential survey.
“I think when you have that kind of opportunity, you do get a very high number of people saying, ‘this is my opportunity to talk about something’.
“These recent submissions are often prefaced by the remark, ‘I didn’t report this, but’.”
Gillian Triggs says there’s huge extremes in the nature of students’ submissions so far, and it’s too early to see if there’s any trends emerging. But she hopes that the survey will be able to show if the amount and nature of sexual harassment on campus is different to the general population.
“We all know that every week in the media there’s another story [about sexual harassment] from a university college, or a university pretty much happening all over Australia.
“One of the things we’d like to know is whether the incidence of these sexual harassments from minor matters to very serious rapes, whether this is any different from the rest of the community. We don’t know the answer to that.”
“Hugely betrayed and very deflated”
Over the past few months, Hack has reported on several stories about sexual assault and harassment of university students.
Kalgoorlie: Black elders call it racism when a black kid is killed while stealing
No awareness shown that the whole thing originated in black crime
Community leaders have called for calm after a violent riot sparked by the death of a 14-year-old Indigenous boy in WA, but have also voiced concerns about racism they fear sparked the incident.
Elijah Doughty, who was killed after he was allegedly struck by the driver of a ute while riding a motorcycle in Kalgoorlie, was remembered at an emotional candle-lit vigil attended by hundreds of community members last night.
The motorcycle was allegedly stolen, and according to Western Australian police was linked to the driver of the utility.
Violent scenes erupted on Tuesday outside the town's courthouse after the accused was charged with manslaughter, with many voicing frustration that the charge was not more serious.
A dozen police officers were injured as people threw rocks and bottles, and five police cars and a local business were damaged. Several people were arrested and charged.
But after the violence waned, two senior members of the community highlighted vicious race-based comments on Kalgoorlie community social media pages, and say they contributed to the atmosphere of tension in the town.
Bruce Smith said the death and subsequent riot had affected not just the community of Kalgoorlie, but Indigenous people across the country.
Elijah Doughty has been remembered as a great footballer. © Facebook via ABC News Elijah Doughty has been remembered as a great footballer. He called on the police to tackle an undercurrent of racism he said had boiled over onto social media, where Aboriginal people were being threatened with rape and violence.
"Those are the ones that are going to continue brewing those attitudes we don't want to see, and it's all coming out on social media, on Facebook.
"Our Indigenous people living in Kalgoorlie and Boulder, they will continue living [here].
"They have been living here for a long, long time, and they are part of this community, whether other people like it or not, non-Aboriginal people like it or not.
"They've got to learn that these people are going to live, and their descendents are going to live, and the justice system that's going to serve them should be put right so that the future generation of our youths in this town, Goldfields and Boulder, are being protected."
He said there was a feeling of frustration about the justice system and the comparative leniency of the charge against Elijah's alleged killer, which may have sparked the riot.
"I think what we need to see is, 'where is the justice'," he said.
"What are they going to do about it? The justice system, is it working for all Australians?"
Elder Aubrey Lynch, whose grandson was close to Elijah, said he was disappointed to see the violence on the streets of Kalgoorlie, and that it was ruining the relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
"We don't like violence anywhere in any case, because violence causes more trouble.
"Here we are trying to build that relationship, and this kind of thing is going to happen, it's going to separate us all."
Acting Kalgoorlie Mayor Allan Pendal described the riot as the worst violence he had seen in the town in three decades.
He said it would be naive to suggest there was not a simmering tension between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the town, but no-one, including the police, expected such a turn of events.
"I think they [the police] were caught off-guard," he said.
"From here we've got to, from the city's point of view, meet with their leadership people, community leaders and police and try to address the issues that are there.
Elijah's grandfather said he hoped some lesson could be learnt from the boy's death.
"I just think, well, if anything can come out of it good, it'd be for the community to wake up to themselves and realise, to keep their kids home, not let them roam the streets and the wider community to help the Aboriginal people work together and live together, live side by side instead of having this hatred," he said.
Community comes together to remember lost child
A large number of children and families gathered peacefully last night at a makeshift shrine where Elijah died, lighting candles and festooning the area with flowers and coloured lights.
A local supermarket donated food.
There has been an outpouring of grief on social media for the child, with many sharing his photo and messages of support for his family.
"Rest easy dude, devastating news, thoughts are with ya pop and brothers and family," Rory Kelly wrote.
Elijah's grandfather Albert Doughty said his grandson was a talented footballer.
"He was a good sportsman. He's played for Kalgoorlie City Football Club since he was 11. They got in the grand final. But he won't be there," he said.
Vocational education is the 'weakling' of Australia's education system
A new report warns that vocational education is the "weakling" of Australian education, under threat from student exploitation, falling enrolments at government-funded providers, poor regulation and uncertainty about its future.
The federal and state governments should do a comprehensive national review of vocational education and training (VET) says the report, VET: Securing Skills for Growth, from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.
The review should include looking at how vocational education can better integrate with higher education, the report said.
It said that governments needed to act because the "national partnership" agreement through which the federal government gives funding to states for vocational education ends in the middle of next year.
Last year the number of vocational education students funded by government fell by 12 per cent compared to 2014.
The report blames a "regulatory oversight" and "poor decision-making" for the VET FEE-HELP student loan scandal which has damaged the reputation of private vocational providers, even though only a relatively small number of them are to blame for exploiting students and government funding.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham will soon announce reforms to VET FEE-HELP – a loan scheme similar to HECS – which allowed dodgy education providers to be paid up front for courses which were delivered badly, even if students never finished them.
The report said it was important that the government's changes didn't restrict competition in vocational education.
It urged a "risk-based" approach to regulation, with more information available to students so they could make informed decisions.
The report said that even though about 4 million students a year are in the vocational system, its importance is not generally recognised
"Despite the size of the sector, there does not appear to be much recognition of the contribution of VET in skilling Australia through its strong industry links and its record in providing job-ready graduates," it says.
"Worse still, there is an implicit assumption in the policy landscape that it is primarily the role of higher education to meet Australia's skills needs."
It said that many jobs which are expected to survive the growth in automation – such as childcare, fitness training and occupational therapy – are taught in vocational colleges.
But the report also urged that vocational education should go beyond narrow competency-based training and give students a broader range of skills – such as creativity, social intelligence, patience, critical thinking and resilience – which equip them for the jobs of the future.
Meanwhile the peak body for private vocational education, the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, has responded to the VET FEE-HELP scandal by setting up an industry accreditation system for private colleges.
ACPET chief executive Rod Camm said that colleges would be independently reviewed against ACPET's Code of Ethics as well as other standards for marketing and recruitment, enrolment and orientation, participation and progression, student support and teaching quality. Those which passed would receive the ACPET Quality Endorsement.
"Only those providers who can demonstrate consistent delivery of high quality service, support and outcomes will become ACPET Quality Endorsed," Mr Camm said.
Freo mayor signals support for traders to run Australia Day fireworks
Australia Day fireworks could return to Fremantle after the city's mayor indicated he did not oppose a plan by local businesses to put on their own display.
Video Freemantle ditches Australia day fireworks, outrage ensues
Restaurateur Henry Liascos, of Cicerello’s, Char Char Bull Restaurant and Bathers Beach House, has applied to the City of Fremantle for permission to hold a pared-back fireworks display on January 26 in the wake of a council decision to dump it for something more culturally sensitive.
Mayor Brad Pettitt told ABC radio this morning the proposal would need to be assessed by staff but he did not see why it should not be approved.
“They will need approval for setting up the fireworks themselves,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any basis not to give it, to be honest. Obviously the staff will look at that but I just don’t see why not.
“We’ve never said that people shouldn’t do fireworks on Australia Day or that they should be banned. Our view was that there was a better, more inclusive way of actually acknowledging the complexities of a day that’s got different feelings for different people and we thought we could do a more inclusive, better event than just setting off fireworks.”
The business revolt came as Federal Labor MP for Fremantle and former deputy mayor Josh Wilson distanced himself from the council’s decision to cancel the fireworks, saying he thought they would be back.
“I respect Fremantle council’s role in making these decisions, but I’ve always thought that Freo’s approach to Australia Day delivered the right mix of civic celebration and reflection on our history, including the primacy of our indigenous heritage,” he said.
Fremantle councillors voted last week to replace the fireworks with a yet-to-be-determined weekend celebration.
Ciccerellos owner Henry Liascos and Char Char Bull managing director Brenden Jones. Picture: Michael Wilson
Mr Liascos, who lodged his application yesterday, said Cicerello’s had sponsored the early days of the fireworks and traders wanted to see them continue.
“It’s a family friendly event,” he said. “Everyone enjoyed it last time. We want to see it continue. It’s not about money, it’s about the fact that there were a lot of people here, they had a great time and it’s an event celebrating Australia Day.”
Mr Liascos said the Fishing Boat Harbour Traders Group, which includes Kailis Fish Market Cafe and Little Creatures, and others would fund the proposed event. It is understood no formal commitment has been made by group members.
To keep costs down the event would probably be 15 minutes rather than 30 and held on land rather than on a barge.
Fremantle council’s decision to end the fireworks display stemmed mostly from concerns about what a day celebrating the arrival of the First Fleet represented for Aboriginals.
It was criticised by the head of the Australia Day Council WA Robert Isaacs, the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce and shadow minister for Aboriginal affairs Ben Wyatt.
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