University’s response to sexually harmful behaviour
Read about Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington’s commitment to supporting a learning environment that is free from sexually harmful behaviour.
Sexually harmful behaviour—including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and bullying of any kind—undermines safety and respect, and may be a breach of the University’s Student Conduct Statute or Staff Conduct Policy.
At the University all sexually harmful behaviour is managed through the Sexual Harassment Response Policy and Procedures. These documents were created following consultation with staff and students that took place in May 2019.
The University takes a survivor-led approach, ensuring that the student who has experienced sexual harm has control over the decisions impacting them, including whether they want to report the incident to the police, report it to the University, seek medical help or access other holistic support services.
Students and staff have a number of options if they choose to disclose or report sexually harmful behaviour. This includes making a disclosure, a formal or informal complaint, and how to make a report on behalf of someone else.
The University has a dedicated team—the Student Interest and Conflict Resolution team—whose members are a central point for students to receive advice and support about the pathways for reporting sexually harmful behaviour. By identifying concerns early, Student Interest works across the University to respond and resolve issues in a supportive and non-adversarial manner. They assess risks, identify support needs, and work alongside students and others to ensure a safer community.
The University runs a prominent campus-based campaign around the words ‘No room for…’, which demonstrates our commitment to our core ethical values of respect, responsibility, fairness, integrity and empathy and reiterates that all staff, students, and visitors have the right to feel safe, valued, and included. ‘No room for sexually harmful behaviours’ is a pillar of this campaign which is widely promoted to students.
All first-year students are encouraged to complete online modules when they join the University, including one on respectful relationships. The module provides education around healthy relationships, consent, unacceptable behaviour, bystander intervention, and pathways for reporting and receiving support for sexually harmful behaviours. These were created in consultation with students, external specialists and academics and feature our students in the video content discussing key concepts. There are also follow-up activities and workshops offered.
Mauri Ora, our Student Health and Counselling service, is available to support students who have experienced any type of sexual harm. These services are free for both New Zealand residents and international students.
Academic and professional staff across the University, and all halls of residence staff are trained in how to respond to disclosures of sexually harmful behaviours. Their first priority is to ensure the immediate safety of the student, and then to outline the options for support, information and reporting. A student living in a hall who has experienced sexual harm is assigned a Student Support Coordinator to ensure they receive holistic and ongoing support.
We actively educate students living in halls about healthy relationships and consent, and actively share the University’s policies about sexual harassment and sexually harmful behaviour, as well as any other appropriate messaging on relevant channels, throughout the academic year.
The University works closely with a number of external organisations, such as the Sexual Violence Prevention Network.
Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association also has a free advocacy service (independent from the University), which supports students dealing with any type of problem, including sexual harm.