Creating a culture of safety around sexual harm at Western

TW: This report contains content about sexual harm that some readers may find distressing. You can find support services and resources below. When a U...

TW: This report contains content about sexual harm that some readers may find distressing. You can find support services and resources below.

When a US-based documentary called The Hunting Ground was released in 2015, highlighting issues around sexual assault on campus – this became a catalyst for conversation in an Australian context that persists to this day.

Unveiling themes of misogyny, victim blaming, and institutional failure, the documentary paints a vivid picture of the deep-rooted challenges in responding to sexual violence – and Australia’s tertiary system is no stranger to this.

A year after the documentary was released, Universities Australia launched the Respect Now Always campaign, aimed at reshaping how universities respond to reports of sexual harm.

Fast forward to 2021, Australian Universities conducted a National Student Safety Survey (NSSS), the first data collection of its kind to highlight underreported incidents of sexual harm.

Out of the 43,819 students surveyed, 1 in 20 students reported experiencing sexual assault while at university, and 1 in 6 faced sexual harassment. Despite these numbers, the majority chose not to report  – and underreporting is common in this space.

CAPTION: Image obtained from NSSS: available at https://www.nsss.edu.au/

How is Western responding?

In the face of these sobering findings, Western Sydney University (WSU) refuses to be complacent. Respect Now Always isn’t just a campaign – but a commitment to the safety and security of our student community.

Here, there is No Wrong Door for reporting sexual harm. WSU encourages individuals who have experienced sexual harm or those aware of someone who has, to come forward and make a report. And remember: there is no time limit for reporting, and every door is the right one when it comes to addressing sexual harm. Students can report to any University staff member, The Office of People if the report includes a staff member, or anyone you trust and feel safe with.

How can I report sexual offences on campus?

WSU encourages students to report sexual harm via the Sexual Offence Reporting Portal (SORP), a confidential online reporting process for all students and staff, that can be accessed from the WSU website. The University aims to respond to reports as soon as possible (within 1 business day). Reports can also be made to the Complaints Resolution Unit directly. The portal is not for emergency use, and students should contact NSW Police or seek assistance from their nearest hospital or GP in an urgent situation.

The university offers a Student Case Coordinator (SCC) service, which provides individualised assistance to students who have experienced sexual harm. SCCs provide information about the sexual offence reporting process and available options. SCCs are able to assist students with study adjustments and links to any further support required. To organise a time to speak with an SCC, email: scc@westernsydney.edu.au

If you feel you would like to speak to someone for support or information in relation to these issues, the following support services are available:

  • 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT.org.au)
  • Lifeline (lifeline.org.au or 13 11 14)
  • QLife (1800 184 527 or qlife.org.au)
  • Relationships Australia (1300 364 277 or relationships.org.au)
  • Mensline Australia (1300 789 978 or mensline.org.au)
  • WSU Office of People, which consists of staff members from both the Human Resources Team and Equity, Safety and Wellbeing team (02 9678 7575 or humanresources@westernsydney.edu.au).
(Credit: Western Sydney University)

GISU Urban Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition: Hear from the WSU Student Teams and Their Brilliant Pitches

Hear from the WSU Student Teams and Their Brilliant Pitches at the GISU Urban Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition....


In November last year, Launch Pad attended the Guangzhou International Sister-City Universities (GISU) 2021 Urban Innovation & Entrepreneurship Final Pitch event at WSU’s Parramatta City Campus, 1PSQ. 12 finalist student teams from 6 different universities from across the globe pitched their ideas in person and virtually for this competition. 


This year’s student competition centred around UNSDG’s (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) with a specific focus on innovation, multidisciplinary and impactful concepts to include entrepreneurship and innovation.


Prof Barney Glover, AO, Vice-Chancellor and President and The Honourable Dr Geoffrey Lee, Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, gave the opening & welcome addresses, and Professor Yi-Chen Lan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Global Development MC’d the event. 


It was a proud moment when Western’s ‘CO2 Concrete’ team (supported/mentored by School of Engineering) won the Gold prize & Western’s ‘Kinteract’ team, Lavanya, (mentored by Launch Pad) won the Bronze prize. 


“This competition was a great opportunity, and it has been really amazing to see the development of their innovative ideas as well as refinement in their pitching skills,” said Inu Rana, Sr. Business Advisor for Launch Pad.


Over the last 6 months, it’s been an amazing journey for WSU student teams, especially for Lavanya Viswanathan, Jeremy Booth and Nik Peric-Djordjevic. 


KInteract is an app aims to change society’s negative perceptions surrounding climate change


Lavanya Viswanathan is a 2nd year student studying Bachelor of Health Science (Therapeutic Recreation) and was encouraged to apply by mentors of Launch Pad, she was told it would be good experience for pitching and to develop her ideas further. 


Her app KInteract gives people the power to make a difference by making small changes in their everyday lives. The app shows users how small changes can help them save energy – for example, walking instead of using private and public transport. 


“This makes them view climate change as something they can tackle and not something they should fear. Through goal setting, users are able to stay motivated and this helps them feel like they are making a difference. In addition to this, rebates reward the user’s sustainable behaviour, promoting and reinforcing positive behaviour,” said Lavanya.


“While developing my pitch deck, I also developed a broader understanding of how a business works and the different aspects that need to be considered when going through each stage of creating a business. Throughout the different stages of the GISU competition, I had started to develop a solid business plan and refine my idea further.”


Lavanya was inspired to make a difference in the world and create impact for future generations. Initially, she was involved in the 2020 21C Challenge where students had to provide sustainable solutions to contribute towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In this challenge, she had learnt how different sectors contribute towards climate change, understanding the importance of youth taking action towards this important problem. 


“It has been a very enlightening experience and I would highly recommend this experience to other students, no matter what stage their project is currently in as it helps you to put yourself and your idea out there,” said Lavanya.


Sustainia is a gamified app experience that aims to shape young people’s approach to sustainability


Jeremy Booth and Nik Peric-Djordjevic are 2nd year students studying a Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (Games Design & Simulation) and believe this competition experience has amplified their pitching and presentation skills learnt from their degree.


It was challenging for the team of two to plan the concept for a project that was outside their field, but believe it taught them the adapt their current skills to any industry. Overall, it has given them the ability to have a confident vision for future projects.


“When Nik presented his idea, I loved how it sounded and immediately wanted to jump on board with him. We weren’t sure how to take it forward but were continually inspired by Inu’s guidance and didn’t know where it would take us until we were in the grand final, somewhere we never anticipated to be,” said Jeremy.


“The final event itself was extremely surreal. It showed us how much we achieved and it showed us where we fell short which gives a full picture of everything required for a stellar entrepreneurial venture.”


Their app gamifies recycling, using image and object recognition to scan items and identify if they are recyclable and how to correctly dispose of them. The choice to gamify the app aims to attract a younger audience, teaching them lifelong skills about how to recycle.


“I wanted to create something that was able to do all the hard work when it comes to recycling correctly for users. All people would have to do when they were unsure was pull it out and take a photo and the app would do the rest. Over time, they would learn and work towards creating a greener world,” said Nik.


Both Jeremy and Nik recommend this experience to anyone looking to become an entrepreneur, “there was so much that we learned from it and it opened our eyes to the amount of effort it takes to become an entrepreneur, but also how rewarding it can be. For those outside of those studying entrepreneurship, it’s still an experience we recommend because there’s something anyone can learn no matter what discipline you come from.”