About the survey
The National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) took place from Monday 6 September to Sunday 3 October 2021 and collected data on the scale and nature of students’ perceptions of safety and experiences relating to sexual harm (including sexual assault and sexual harassment) at Australian universities. The survey will build upon the data and recommendations from the survey completed by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2016 and Universities Australia’s Respect, Now, Always initiative.
The survey was independently conducted by the Social Research Centre, in partnership with leading violence prevention expert Associate Professor Anastasia Powell of RMIT, with approval by the RMIT Human Research Ethics Committee.
Approximately 10,000 Deakin students were invited to participate in the qualitative component of the survey. All current and former students (enrolled within the past five years) were also provided with the opportunity to share their experiences via the NSSS website.
Support at Deakin and beyond
For some in our community, the NSSS results may be distressing. Deakin is committed to ensuring that members of our community have access to free and confidential advice and support throughout their time at Deakin.
Our priority is the safety, welfare and privacy of those impacted by sexual harm, family violence, discrimination or behaviours of concern. All disclosures are handled in a compassionate way that prioritises the needs of both the individual and the University community.
Support at Deakin
For support or to report sexual harm, behaviours of concern, or family violence, please contact Safer Community (Monday to Friday, 9am–4pm) on 03 9244 3734 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also offer online reporting of sexual harm, family violence and behaviours of concern.
Deakin also provides counselling (on-campus and telehealth in Australia), and support for students located overseas.
By contacting Safer Community or a service within Deakin’s Health and Wellbeing team, you can also request academic flexibility, special consideration, housing, and financial support.
Immediate response or imminent danger
If you are on campus call Deakin Security on 1800 062 579 for 24/7 support, or call emergency services (police and ambulance) on Triple Zero (000). Download our Safe Zone app for use on campus.
If you are off campus call emergency services (police and ambulance) on Triple Zero (000).
External support services
- 1800 RESPECT – Sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling: 1800respect.org.au or 1800 737 732
- Lifeline – 24-hr crisis support and suicide prevention: lifeline.org.au or 13 11 14
- Sexual Assault Crisis Line Victoria – sacl.com.au or 1800 806 292 (24 hours)
- Beyond Blue – Mental health support: beyondblue.org.au or 1300 224 636
- QLife – 1800 184 527 or qlife.org.au
- MensLine Australia – 1300 78 99 78, or mensline.org.au
Deakin’s 2021 National Student Safety Survey results
Deakin thanks the 1166 students who completed the NSSS in 2021.
The NSSS data showed the experiences of the 1166 Deakin students who completed the survey were broadly consistent with the national findings. Based on the responses of our students who participated:
- 12.1 per cent of Deakin students who participated in the survey had experienced some form of sexual harassment in a university setting since commencing study. This compared to 16.1 per cent nationally.
- 4.5 per cent of Deakin students who participated in the survey had experienced some form of sexual harassment in a university setting in the past year. This compared to 8.1 per cent nationally.
- 3.7 per cent of Deakin students who participated in the survey had experienced some form of sexual assault in a university setting since commencing study. This compared to 4.5 per cent nationally.
2021 NSSS Deakin institutional infographic
NSSS 2021 national quantitative and qualitative reports
Read the reports
Deakin University media release
Read the 2021 NSSS Deakin media response
What was the 2021 National Student Survey?
The National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) took place in late 2021, collecting data on the scale and nature of students’ perceptions of safety at Australian universities and experiences relating to sexual harm (including sexual assault and sexual harassment).
How many students participated in the survey?
The national survey randomly sampled 378,992 students from universities across the sector. At Deakin, approximately 10,000 students were sampled. The selection of students took into account factors like gender, year of study, residency and level of study to make sure the sample was representative.
A total of 43,819 students participated in the survey, with a national response rate of 11.6%. Deakin’s response rate was 11.7%.
Who conducted the survey?
The survey was independently conducted by the Social Research Centre in partnership with leading violence prevention expert Associate Professor Anastasia Powell of RMIT. Ethics approval was received by the RMIT Human Research Ethics Committee.
What did the survey include?
The survey included questions on students’ attitudes towards violence. These questions were adapted from the 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS). The NCAS is the world’s longest-running survey of community attitudes towards violence against women and is funded by the Australian Government. While most young Australians (aged 16–24) have a good knowledge of key aspects of violence against women and support gender equality, NCAS findings show that many young men believe that having control is a normal part of a relationship and lack understanding about sexual consent. Many factors contribute to sexual violence. The evidence shows that attitudes that endorse violence, disrespect towards women and gender inequality are among these factors. Attitudes can serve as a barometer for progress, and where we may need to focus future efforts.
How can I assist someone who has come to me for support?
If someone you know needs support, please contact Safer Community on 03 9244 3734 between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday. For out-of-hours support please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line (24 hours) 1800 806 292.
Here are some helpful tips if someone asks you for direct support. Ensure they:
- are believed
- feel safe
- are assured that it wasn’t their fault
- are informed about support services e.g., Safer Community, external agencies.
- are aware of reporting options e.g., Safer Community, Deakin Security, Police.
What's Deakin doing to ensure student safety and to prevent harm?
Deakin has a range of initiatives to ensure student safety and prevent harm. These have included, but are not limited to:
- The creation of a single point of contact for anyone to disclose sexual harm and receive support. The needs and wishes of those who have experienced or witnessed sexual harm are central to the support provided. This includes when referring or connecting to other university services such as counselling and psychological support, medical, campus security, and external services including police, medical centres, hospitals and specialist sexual assault centres.
- Revision in 2021 of the Student Code of Conduct to make explicit to students Deakin’s commitment to preventing sexual harm in our University community and continuously improving how we respond to, and support, those who have been affected (Clause 6f).
- The implementation of a confidential internal database to record disclosures of sexual harm. This system provides options for anonymous and third-party reporting.
- The adoption of best practice guides from Universities Australia, the Australian Human Rights Commission, Our Watch, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), resulting in a comprehensive University Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Policy and Sexual Harm Response Procedure.
- The establishment of a Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group with broad-based membership that continues to review sexual harm prevention and response activities and plans.
- The introduction of an online Respect at Deakin module, which all commencing students are encouraged to complete. The module was first introduced in 2017 and has been refreshed and revised for 2022. Staff are also encouraged to access and complete the module.
- Higher degree by research (HDR) students and supervisors have access to a tailored ‘Respect at Deakin – HDR: Respectful Supervisory Relationships’ online module including coverage of positive and respectful supervisory relationships.
- Staff and students are offered education and capacity building programs. Staff are required to complete compulsory online staff modules on ‘Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Harm’ and 'Respectful Behaviour.' Those who work directly with students, and who are more likely to receive disclosures about sexual harm, are provided with additional training and support to foster a person-centred response and referrals to appropriate services.
- Independent reviews were conducted of counselling and student accommodation by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) in 2018 following recommendations outlined in the Australian Human Rights Commission Change the Course Report. These reviews highlighted many examples of best practice already in place as well as guiding ongoing improvements to services.
- Deakin is currently participating a joint eSafety project, facilitated by the e-Safety Commissioner and Universities Australia, focused on preventing online abuse and improving the safety of students while studying and socialising online.
- All students residing within student accommodation at Deakin are required to complete an online induction program which includes direct reference to consent, bystander intervention, respectful behaviours and sexual harm. Deakin Residential Services’ RESPECT values also guides community expectations and standards amongst the on campus residential student cohort. First introduced in 2016, these values extend beyond rules and regulations to outline core ideals embraced by the 3,000 students who call Deakin home.
For further information, see the Universities Australia National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) Frequently Asked Questions
What will Deakin be doing with the results?
Deakin will be sharing the results of the NSSS with students and staff via a variety of forums and internal communication channels. Our institutional results, broader themes from the survey, and student and staff feedback will be used to guide future actions, which will be incorporated as part of Deakin’s broader Respect and Sexual Harm program of work.
For further information, including details regarding survey methodology, see the Universities Australia National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) Frequently Asked Questions.
Australian Human Rights Commission survey and report
A significant part of the national Respect. Now. Always. initiative was the 2016 Australian Human Rights Commission's (AHRC) national survey to investigate the nature and scale of university student experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The outcome was the 2017 Change the Course Report and a data report for each Australian university.
Deakin's 2016 AHRC survey results
649 Deakin students completed the 2016 survey. The AHRC data demonstrated that the experiences of Deakin students were broadly consistent with those of other students across Australia. Deakin students reported that:
- 50% had experienced some form of sexual harassment either at Deakin or in the community
- 17% had experienced sexual harassment at Deakin (excluding while travelling to and from university)
- 8.2% had experienced sexual assault either at Deakin or in the community
- 2.3% had experienced sexual assault at Deakin.
The data from the 2016 AHRC survey can be difficult to interpret, and we strongly recommend reading the notes on interpreting the institutional data.
The Change the Course Report made a number of key recommendations to all participating Australian universities. Deakin’s work to address the key recommendations is outlined in our most recent report submitted to the Australian Human Rights Commission.