UOW installation highlights importance of respect, safety on campus

Interactive cube invites staff, students to share their messages of respect as part of ongoing campaign

The University of Wollongong (UOW) today (Wednesday 19 September) launched the ‘Respect is…’ campaign on the Wollongong campus, with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of safety and respect for all students and staff.

One year on from UOW’s participation in Respect.Now.Always (RNA), a national initiative that is dedicated to preventing and address sexual assault and harassment across the university sector, Respect is… is continuing the conversation around the importance of creating a culture of respect for everyone.

It builds on the Change the Course report, commissioned by the Australian Human Rights Commission and Universities Australia, which was released on 1 August 2017.

Respect is… invites the campus community to define what respect means to them in a visual and public way.

The launch event unveiled an interactive cube, located outside the UOW Library, where students, staff and visitors have the opportunity to write what respect means to them.

Cubes will also be installed at all other campuses in the coming weeks.

UOW’s Chief Administrative Officer Melva Crouch CSM said the event highlighted the work being done by the University to shed light on the prevalence of these issues in our community.

“This campaign is speaking directly to UOW students and staff. It gives them the opportunity to define respect and what it means to be safe and supported not only on campus but in our accommodation residences, on local transport services, and campus surrounds,” Ms Crouch said.

UOW Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings CBE reaffirmed the University’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the RNA campaign last month on the one-year anniversary of the Change the Course report.

Professor Wellings said at the time that a “tremendous amount of work has been done by staff and students from across the University to fulfill that commitment.”

Initiatives underway at UOW include the development and implementation of tailored programs for students and staff aimed at understanding consent, engendering a culture of respect, incident prevention, and support following disclosures.

Respect Is Launch Collage

UOW’s counselling service has seen the introduction of a triage specialist, sexual assault and sexual harassment specialist, a 1300 number, priority appointments for emergencies and partnerships with external providers.

Professor Wellings also noted improvements to the incident reporting processes aimed at avoiding victims repeatedly relaying their experience and provides better institutional data while protecting privacy.

In July 2018, the University released a Draft Action Plan as a response to the 2017 report working toward a series of objectives across support and report avenues, education, student experience and safety.

The Respect is… campaign launched today highlights the University’s unwavering commitment to providing a safe and respectful environment for all members of the community.

“Today marks the beginning of a lifelong conversation about respect for all. Here at UOW we are dedicated to working toward a significant culture change in this space and be on the forefront of embedding this message into our everyday lives on and off campus,” said Ron Fogarty, the Safe and Respectful Communities Manager.

The cubes will remain at each campus for two weeks, inviting passers-by to contribute. The campaign will be ongoing with support staff and the campus community continuing its message for years to come.

Speaking at the launch was fourth-year Bachelor of Social Work student Josh Cleaver who started his degree in 2015 in hopes of working toward improving social justice within the community.

Throughout his degree Josh has been active in student groups and advisory boards, championing the importance of talking about consent, respect and relationships in 2018.

“For the students of UOW, this is our chance to define the next chapter in the history of respect for ourselves and students across Australia.”

The campaign has been launched at each domestic campus with an installation available onsite at Wollongong, Innovation Campus, Southern Highlands, Bega, Batemans Bay, Southern Sydney, Sydney Business School, and South Western Sydney.

For more information on how to get involved or if the campaign, this post or any of the related material has caused you or someone you know stress or harm UOW has confidential avenues of support who can help; visit the Safe and Respectful Communities website.

Photos by Alex Pike

Posted in Education
Tagged: Community, Student life