UNIVERSITY HARASSMENT CRISIS

The NTEU is calling for urgent change after publishing the preliminary results of its latest survey on sexual harassment, sexism, and gender-based bias in tertiary education workplaces last Thursday.

The preliminary results reveal a significant increase in the number of respondents who’ve experienced sexual harassment, rising from 19% in 2018 to 29% this year.

In a statement, the NTEU described the survey results as 'alarming and deeply disappointing.'

'The higher education sector has clearly not made progress since our 2018 survey.'

Among the respondents reporting personal experiences of sexual harassment, 77% were women, 17% were men, and 5% identified as non-binary.

The survey identifies workplace cultures and attitudes that allow harassment to persist, including belittling complaints and ignoring incidents. Only 13% formally complained, while 24% complained informally. Respondents cited a belief that nothing would be done (59%), lack of trust in the complaint process (51%), fear of being perceived as overreacting (51%), and concern about potential damage to their careers (46%).

Some respondents were reluctant to encourage reporting due to the potential harm caused by complaints not leading to positive outcomes. Specifically, 52% report being encouraged to drop their complaints, 48% saw no action taken, 45% were labelled troublemakers, and 44% faced negative consequences, including denial of promotions or unfavourable work assignments.

‘Respondents to our survey have said while they know there are sexual harassment policies in place in their workplaces, most don’t report sexual harassment because of institutional cultures that ignore, minimise or even target victims of sexual harassment.’

The NTEU emphasizes the need for institutions to treat workplace harassment as a psychosocial risk and address it as a workplace health and safety issue. They also call for transparent reporting of harassment and the fulfillment of legal obligations to eliminate sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace.

Access the full NTEU report

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