The 2021 National Student Safety Survey found that since starting university, 1 in 6 students had experienced sexual harassment and 1 in 20 had experienced sexual assault in a university context.
The Australian Universities Accord Interim Report highlighted this issue as an area for immediate attention. A Commonwealth, State and Territory officials Working Group was established to develop reform options.
On 22 November 2023 Education Ministers released a Draft Action Plan Addressing Gender-based Violence in Higher Education for further consultation. The Draft Action Plan recognises the leading role the higher education sector can and should play to prevent gender-based violence and set the example for appropriate, trauma-informed responses to victim survivors.
The first action proposed is a National Student Ombudsman, which would be a single point of contact for higher education students to escalate complaints if they are not satisfied with their provider’s response.