Universities can't solve the problem of sexual assault on their own

We fully expect the results to be challenging.

The agreement to do this survey was forged almost two years ago. Vice-chancellors at 39 of our universities asked an independent body — the Australian Human Rights Commission — to survey their students to highlight what more needs to be done.

This is a global challenge. It is a community challenge. And it's one that university leaders want to address, but none of us can solve it on our own. All of us — university leadership, students and staff — can help to shift understanding and attitudes.

The scale of the problem

Sexual assault: What is your university doing to prevent it?

And it's not an urban legend.

Sexual assault counselling services around the country have disclosed that the number of calls for help from female university students increases during and immediately following Orientation Week events at Australian universities.

"There are always increased reports of sexual assault around O-week," said Chrystina Stanford, CEO of the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre. "Sometimes the increase comes just after O-week when things have settled down a bit."