Sexual harm cases within the University of Wollongong and its nearby communities increased 700 per cent in 2022, according to UOW’s 2023 annual report on sexual harm and prevention.
The investigation conducted by the Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) found a significant rise in sexual assault and harassment cases (SASH), with a total of 183 incidents disclosed, compared to just 22 in 2021.
However, the university has said the outcome was a successful result of the intensive focus the institution has placed on increasing awareness of SASH over the last 12 months.
UOW vice chancellor Professor Patricia Davidson said the report details UOW’s actions to combat sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus and in the wider community.
“Creating safe and respectful communities is critically important for UOW and this report delivers a transparent account of the initiatives we’re undertaking to make a meaningful and lasting difference,” Professor Davidson said.
“Our approach is to address the issue on all fronts: prevention, support, response and education. We understand there is always more to be done and we will continue to work diligently in making UOW a place where everyone feels safe, valued, and respected.”
The report showed that, of 183 cases, 37 occurred on campus and 86 off campus, while the location of the other 60 is not known. Additionally, in 104 cases, the person causing harm was reported to be unknown to the university; whereas 29 involved UOW students and 5 involved university staff.
Chief Integrity Officer Professor Trish Mundy said UOW was committed to continual improvement to make its campuses safer and more respectful.
“We appreciate the courage of victim-survivors, their allies, and those who advocate for cultural change. We hear you, we see you, and your voices are central to our ongoing work in this space,” she said.
“We strive to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone. We constantly review our policies, training programs and support services to ensure they meet the needs of our community. There’s always work to do, but please know we are actively doing it.”
Students in need of immediate assistance can contact UOW’s Support and Wellbeing service.