UNI STAFF GO IN RAPE SCAN­DAL RE­SPONSE

Townsville Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - VIC­TO­RIA NUGENT vic­to­ria.nugent@news.com.au

JAMES Cook Uni­ver­sity staff em­broiled in a scan­dal over the han­dling of a rape case in­volv­ing a staff mem­ber have left the uni­ver­sity.

The rev­e­la­tion came as a sur­vey re­leased yes­ter­day by the Aus­tralian Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion found 52 per cent of JCU re­spon­dents re­ported they were sex­u­ally ha­rassed in 2016.

JCU aca­demic ad­viser Dou­glas Steele was jailed in Jan­uary y for the rapep of a stu­dent inn 2015. The uni­ver­sity came un­der fire for not stand­ing down Steele af­ter he was charged, with one staff mem­ber even writ­ing a let­ter of ref­er­ence which was ten­dered to the court.

Vice- Chan­cel­lor San­dra Hard­ing g ( pic­turedp d) said she could not com­ment on ac­tion taken on in­di­vid­u­als but “there are staff who are no longer em­ployed by the uni­ver­sity”.

THE AUS­TRALIAN HU­MAN RIGHTS COM­MIS­SION IS SUG­GEST­ING THAT ALL UNI­VER­SI­TIES SHOULD DO SOME­THING OF THIS TYPE SO I GUESS WE’RE AL­READY EN­GAGED IN THAT PROCESS JCU VICE--CHAN­CEL­LOR PROFFESSOR SAN­DRA HARD­ING (PIC­TURED)

JAMES Cook Uni­ver­sity staff em­broiled in a scan­dal over the han­dling of a rape case in­volv­ing a staff mem­ber have left the uni­ver­sity.

The rev­e­la­tion came yes­ter­day on the back of data from a na­tional Aus­tralian Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion sur­vey re­veal­ing 52 per cent of James Cook Uni­ver­sity re­spon­dents were re­port­edly sex­u­ally ha­rassed in 2016.

The JCU- spe­cific data is drawn from the re­sponses of 833 stu­dents who took part in the na­tional sur­vey and shows 25 per cent of stu­dents ex­pe­ri­enced sex­ual ha­rass­ment at uni­ver­sity, ex­clud­ing trav­el­ling to or from uni­ver­sity.

The re­sults also show 1.8 per cent of JCU stu­dents were as­saulted at uni­ver­sity in 2015 or 2016 while 18.9 per cent of stu­dents said they knew noth­ing about where to seek help within the uni­ver­sity re­gard­ing sex­ual as­sault.

The fig­ures come as JCU is mid­way through an ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion be­ing run by for­mer Sex Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mis­sioner El­iz­a­beth Brod­er­ick in the wake of Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der Cen­tre aca­demic ad­viser Dou­glas Steele be­ing jailed in Jan­uary for dig­i­tally rap­ing an indige­nous stu­dent in Septem­ber 2015.

JCU came un­der fire for not stand­ing Steele down af­ter he was charged, de­spite some staff mem­bers be­ing aware of the case, with one even writ­ing a ref­er­ence let­ter that was ten­dered to the court.

Vice- Chan­cel­lor San­dra Hard­ing said yes­ter­day the uni­ver­sity would not com­ment on in­di­vid­ual dis­ci­plinary ac­tions.

“The uni­ver­sity will not com­ment and can­not com­ment on dis­ci­plinary mat­ters that are con­fi­den­tial and sub­ject to en­ter­prise agree­ment pro­cesses, but I can say there are staff who are no longer em­ployed by the uni­ver­sity and a range of steps are be­ing taken with for­mer staff to re­flect our ex­pec­ta­tions of them,” Pro­fes­sor Hard­ing said.

“But those ar­range­ments and those mea­sures are con­fi­den­tial and per­sonal to those staff ... th­ese are not mat­ters that it’s ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment on save only that the uni­ver­sity has and will con­tinue to ad­dress such mat­ters con­sis­tent with its en­ter­prise agree­ment obli­ga­tions.”

Pro­fes­sor Hard­ing said Ms Brod­er­ick was ex­pected to de­liver her re­port later this year.

“In­ter­est­ingly enough the Aus­tralian Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion is sug­gest­ing that all uni­ver­si­ties should do some­thing of this type so I guess we’re al­ready en­gaged in that process and I’m pleased that we are,” she said.

A po­si­tion ad­ver­tised last week for the head of James Cook Uni­ver­sity’s indige­nous stu­dent ser­vices divi­sion spec­i­fied that the em­ployee was “re­quired to ex­er­cise proper dis­cre­tion in all mat­ters af­fect­ing the well­be­ing of the Uni­ver­sity which in­volve public writ­ing or speak­ing in ac­cor­dance with the Uni­ver­sity’s Code of Con­duct”.

Pic­ture: ZAK SIMMONDS

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