Findings of the 2021 National Student Safety Survey released

Findings of the 2021 National Student Safety Survey released

The University of Melbourne has released its data from the National Student Safety Survey into the experience of sexual harassment and sexual assault among university students in 2021.

43,819 students from 39 Australian universities responded to the 2021 National Student Safety Survey, which was commissioned and funded by Universities Australia on behalf of all universities.

The University of Melbourne strongly encouraged students to take part and 1,481 students responded from a random sample of 9,992 students, achieving one of the highest response rates of 14.8 per cent.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell said the results show there is much more to do to make our campuses safer.

“The safety and wellbeing of our University community is our highest priority and any experience of sexual assault and sexual harassment is unacceptable,” Professor Maskell said. “The data are confronting; but it’s important to use this information to motivate the change required to make our campuses safe for our community.”

The University of Melbourne results and a video message from the Provost, are available online. The national reports and data from other Australian universities can be accessed at

University of Melbourne Provost, Professor Nicola Phillips who oversees the University’s major Respect program of work, thanked the many students, including victim-survivors, who lent their voice to this important survey.

“I acknowledge your experiences and the experiences of all survivors in our community. I understand the personal impact that these discussions have on you,” Professor Phillips said.

“Thank you to everyone in the community who is finding the courage to come forward, so that we can take action and do the right thing. Please continue working with us on this.

“These results make for difficult reading. As a University we should be deeply disappointed. This is a pressing issue for everyone who studies and works at the University of Melbourne and clearly we have much more to do.“

The University’s comprehensive Respect at Melbourne program of work is aimed at eliminating sexual misconduct and strengthening a trauma-informed, victim-centred approach to the management of incidents that arise. It includes the following initiatives:

  • A new, standalone Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Policy (MPF1359), was issued in 2021 and is being carefully, fairly and decisively applied.
  • A comprehensive Respect Education Program is equipping everyone at the University to play an active role in identifying, responding to and preventing sexual misconduct. Workshops have been delivered to the University’s most senior leaders, including Council, the Executive and the Professoriate and the program will soon be rolled out to all other University staff.
  • A new Primary Prevention Framework is guiding the development of a new Respect Action Plan.
  • A Respect at Melbourne Committee, chaired by the Provost and including student representatives, has been established to ensure the right mix of people from within our University community is working on this issue.
  • The roll-out of an important confidential reporting tool will commence within weeks, encouraging more people to report sexual misconduct that they experience, witness or hear about, anonymously if they wish.
  • Last year a bystander awareness email campaign was delivered to all students and staff to encourage and empower bystander action against sexism and sexual harassment.

Professor Phillips encouraged any students, staff or alumni who have experienced sexual misconduct to contact the Safer Community Program to report incidents and access a range of confidential support and advice. A list of external support services is also available below.

External support services

Phone and online counselling for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse, available 24/7
1800 737 732

Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) House
03 9635 3610
Crisis response, counselling, advocacy and support services for victim-survivors of sexual assault, including 24/7 counselling and support line

Phone and online confidential crisis support, available 24/7
13 11 14

Online and face-to-face mental health support for young people aged 12-25.

Phone and online support service for LGBTIQ+ people, available 3pm to midnight.
1800 184 527

MensLine Australia
Phone and online counselling service for men, available 24/7
1300 78 99 78

Beyond Blue
Phone and online mental health counselling and advice, available 24/7
1300 22 4636