Do you feel safe?

Are the safety measures taken by Curtin enough?

Curtin’s Bentley campus, a place where students should feel safe. Photo: Andrea Tharan Samikanu.

Content warning: This story discusses sexual assault and sexual harassment.

It has been 19 months since the National Student Safety Report was released. So what measures has Curtin implemented since then to ensure the safety of students?

In March 2022, the result of 2021 National Student Safety Survey was released. The survey was part of Universities Australia’s Respect. Now. Always. initiative.

The main purpose of the survey was to raise awareness of students thoughts about safety on campus and their experiences of sexual assaults and sexual harassment.

A total of 43,819 students participated in the survey and 2.6 per cent of the participants were from Curtin University.

The data in the report showed that 9.2 per cent students had experienced sexual harassment and 1.1 per cent had experienced sexual assault over the previous 12 months.

Around 531 students reported that they experienced some sort of sexual harassment in general campus areas while 16.2 per cent had experienced sexual harassment in areas such as university libraries, lecture theatres and computer labs.

When the results were released, Curtin Vice Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne issued a statement applauding the bravery of the students who had come forward to participate in the survey. She also said that Curtin was seeking ways to ensure safety on campus and providing support to students in need.

This month a spokesperson from Curtin University said: “Curtin is focused on making campuses safe and supportive and ensuring students know how to access the wide range of supports Curtin has to offer.”

She explained that Curtin has implemented a training package called Respectful Relationships to help all students to understand the boundaries between each other and said: “A 24/7 security team provides direct connection to professional support services.”

Curtin Guild president Dylan Botica said: “The Guild has been working with Curtin University to establish a committee to try and tackle this issue.

“It is a complex issue that requires a lot of investments from lots of different parties across the university.”

Mr Botica said university regulators should hold perpetrators accountable when incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment happen on campus.

In another initiative, Curtin has provided students with an smart phone app called SafeZone. The purpose of the app is to alert security teams in an event of an emergency. The app shares the location of the user in the moment.

Curtin University student Kezia Silitonga said the app SafeZone is easy to use as it is simple and straightforward.

Curtin Student using SafeZone application. Photo: Andrea Tharani Samikanu.

When asked if she ever had a problem with the app, she said: “When I first used it, I clicked the button for help, and it asked me to wait for five seconds. It then showed several options which included calling the safety community number or the police.

“I thought if I didn’t click any button, it won’t call them. Then suddenly the safety community called me back! I got confused and shocked. The app automatically called them,” Ms Silitonga said.

Although it was easy to use, she said the developers “should add a tutorial on how to use the app as it can be confusing sometimes.”

She also hopes to see the option of waiting for five seconds to contact security changed, as someone who is in an emergency might not have five seconds to spare.

Ms Silitonga advised new students to save the Safety Communities Team’s phone number (9266 4444) in their phone or download SafeZone app to reduce the risk of having a dangerous encounter on campus.