UNE releases independent report into residential college system

Published 27 May 2019

The University of New England will implement all recommendations that relate to the institution from an independent report into the factors that contribute to sexual assault and sexual harassment at its residential colleges.

UNE Vice-Chancellor, Professor Annabelle Duncan, said the University asked the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) to undertake the review to gain further insight into its college system and identify areas for improvement.

The AHRC’s Independent review of residential colleges at the University of New England makes 28 recommendations that include changes to policies and procedures, a focus on reducing alcohol in the colleges and a boost to education programs for students.

“This latest report is an important look back at how our colleges have been operating and recommends further changes we need to make.  It is important to note that of the 25 recommendations that relate to UNE’s colleges, work is completed or underway to meet 17 of the recommendations,” Professor Duncan said.

Independently operated St Albert’s College has agreed to implement the three recommendations that relate specifically to it.

“We know we play an important role in helping to educate our students about respect and consent, while also giving them the tools and support needed if sexual assault and sexual harassment regrettably occurs while they are in our residential system," Professor Duncan said.

“I want to thank the students and staff who provided valuable insights and feedback to the AHRC. Their involvement in this process will ensure a safer and more respectful college environment for future generations.”  

This independent report follows the release of the AHRC’s Change the course report in August 2017, which highlighted the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment at all Australian universities.

“Since the AHRC’s Change the course report was released, UNE has taken significant steps to improve the college experience for our students. This includes working closely with our students to encourage and bring about the cultural change needed to address the issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment not only in residential colleges but in society more broadly,” Professor Duncan said.

“Changes made to date include training in understanding consent, alcohol and drug education for students, an increase in the number of females in leadership roles at colleges, a ban on alcohol sponsorship of UNE colleges and sporting teams, as well as after-hours professional support for students.”

The full report can be found here: Independent review of residential colleges at the University of New England (PDF, 3391.24 KB).