University students will stand in solidarity at tomorrow’s ‘Rally Against Sexual Violence’ – a day of action marking one year since the Australian Human Rights Commission released an alarming report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities.

More than 30,000 students responded to the national independent survey from across 39 universities which revealed:

One in five (21 per cent) of students were sexually harassed in a university setting, this excluding travel to and from university, in 2016.

1.6 per cent of students were sexually assaulted in a university setting, this including travel to and from university, on at least one occasion in 2015 or 2016.

Despite wide media coverage in the weeks following the report, students claim little has been done by university administrations since then.

Rally Against Sexual Violence is a demand for our universities to take action and properly address sexual harassment and sexual assault on campus beyond emails, online modules, and bulletins.

Though a majority of people at the rally will be University of Melbourne students, groups representing other universities are expected to attend.

Speakers at the rally include Nina Funnell (End Rape On Campus) and Zoya Patel (Writer, Editor and former ACT Young Woman of the Year). President of UMSUDesiree Cai will also be speaking at the event.

Cai told Pedestrian.TV that “student unions, and women students in particular, have been fighting for decades to make universities accountable for the safety of all students on campus.” 

“This rally is significant because we are calling on the University to listen to the united voice of survivors, activists and students who may have been silenced in the past.

“For those on campus now and into the future, we hope that this rally will be a turning point in how universities work with their communities to create tangible change that prevents and addresses sexual violence on campus.”

Over 700 people have marked their interest on the rally’s Facebook page.

According to the event details students are determined to achieve:

1. Mandatory student representation on advisory bodies and action/ working groups
2. Greater university oversight of colleges
3. Adequate information to prepare international students for Australian university culture
4. Increased funding and support for external sexual violence services
5. Face to face cultural and linguistically diverse sexual violence education
6. Centralised, survivor-centric reporting processes
7. Sexual violence response training for academic and support service staff
8. Increased counselling and support services with dedicated sexual violence units
9. Standardised policies and procedures across all areas of the university
10. Annual release of all data that pertains to sexual violence on campus

The rally will take place on Wednesday, 1 August on South Lawn at the University of Melbourne, 2:00pm. Lunch will be provided with gold coin donations going towards End Rape On Campus. 

For more information about the rally, click HERE.

If you would like to talk to a counsellor about sexual assault or sexual harassment, please contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732. You can also contact No to Violence on 1300 766 491.

Image: Getty Images / Jeff Greenberg