We encourage you to have your say on student safety – but support is here if you need it
Have you heard about the National Student Safety Survey (NSSS)? This independently conducted survey is collecting data on students’ experience of safety while studying at Australian universities.
The survey is now open and a broad cross-section of students has been randomly selected to participate. If you’re one of them, you’ll have received an email or SMS from the Social Research Centre with instructions on how to complete the survey.
If you haven’t received an email but would like to provide feedback on this important issue, you can have your say by visiting the NSSS website during the survey period, which runs until Sunday 3 October.
Read more about the survey and why two Deakin students think it’s so important.
Safer Community can help if you feel distressed
Talking about these kinds of issues can be difficult, especially when your usual friendship or support networks may be hard to access because of COVID-19 restrictions. If completing the survey makes you feel distressed, support is available, including from Deakin’s Safer Community service.
We asked Gillian Green, Safer Community Advisor, how the service works – including when to contact, and what happens if you report an incident of sexual harm, family and domestic violence or threatening behaviour.
In what kinds of situations should I contact Safer Community?
If you or someone else feels scared, intimidated, fearful, offended or traumatised. The types of situations we respond to include, but are not limited to, harassment, sexual harm, domestic and family violence, and child safety concerns. However, we have a ‘no wrong door’ policy – if in doubt, call us because if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
What happens after I make a report or disclosure, or ask for help?
When we receive a report, we first make contact with the reporter to organise a time to talk. We can meet in person (COVID permitting), on Zoom, talk on the phone or via email – whatever makes you feel most comfortable. We provide a safe and confidential space to talk about your experience and the options available to you. This information is really important as it will help you make informed decisions about what you may like to do next and what support we can offer.
Will everything I say be kept private and confidential?
We’re bound by ethical guidelines that include protecting your privacy and not disclosing what you share. However, there are some limits to confidentiality, which means we would need to breach your privacy in situations where:
- there are concerns about your immediate safety or the safety of others
- your information is subpoenaed by a court of law
- there is a legal obligation to do so (for example, you disclose information about a criminal offence).
If this was to happen, we would explain what action we were taking and why. We would also discuss possible outcomes from our report and any follow-up support that may assist you.
What kind of experience and knowledge do Safer Community staff have?
We’re fortunate to have a team with a broad range of experiences and knowledge bases. Collectively, we’ve worked in a variety of contexts such as prisons, the police force, schools and community-based organisations. Our team members are experienced in dealing with family violence, homelessness, alcohol and other drugs, counselling and sexual harm.
Does any information I provide also have to be reported to police or other authorities?
In short, no. We’ll provide you with all available options, including formal reporting avenues like the police. As part of the conversation, we’ll ask what you want to do, and share appropriate information and resources so you can make an informed choice about what your next steps may be. If you’re under 18, we have different reporting obligations, which we would discuss with you.
I’d consumed drugs or alcohol when something happened to me – what does this mean for any report?
If something happened to you without your consent or that made you feel unsafe, scared or uncomfortable, it doesn’t matter if you’d consumed drugs or alcohol at the time. It is never your fault. Our advisors will listen to you without judgement and provide you support without prejudice.
Something happened to me a while ago – but I wasn’t ready to talk about it then. Can I still make a report?
We know it can sometimes take a while to feel ready to talk about what happened. There’s no time limit on support being offered to you. Safer Community is available to talk and help whether something happened recently or a long time ago.
I don’t have any proof that something happened – should I even bother making a report?
We don’t require any proof that something has happened for us to offer support. We operate independently of any formal processes such as student conduct or police reports, and it is not our role to investigate incidents. In reporting to our service, we’ll provide a space for you to be heard and provided with information, resources and support.
This did not happen to me at uni – should I still speak with someone at Deakin?
Safer Community will provide support even if you or someone else has felt unsafe, hurt or threatened outside of uni. We recognise that circumstances outside of uni life can impact your physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing, which in turn can affect how you engage with your studies. Your wellbeing and safety is a priority to the University.
What kind of information do I need to provide to Safer Community?
We may ask you some questions that will help us provide the most appropriate information and support – such as your name, student ID and what has brought you to our service – but the level of information you provide is entirely up to you. You may prefer to remain anonymous or have a friend speak on your behalf – that’s okay too.
How do I get in contact with Safer Community?
You can contact us by phone on 9244 3734, email at [email protected] or via our online form. Our service is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm.
Other support options
If you or someone else needs immediate emergency help, please contact Victoria Police by calling Triple Zero (000) or Deakin Security on 1800 062 579. If you need to leave a violent situation, you can – regardless of any restrictions in place due to COVID-19.
You can also contact these off-campus specialist services, which are available 24/7:
- 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – sexual assault, and domestic and family violence counselling
- Lifeline (13 11 14) – crisis support and suicide prevention
- Beyond Blue (1300 224 636) – mental health support
- MensLine Australia (1300 78 99 78) – telephone and online counselling service for Australian men
- Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line (1800 806 292) – crisis response for people who have experienced sexual violence
- Safe Steps (1800 015 188) – crisis response for people who have experienced family violence.
You can find out more about the survey at deakin.edu.au/nsss.