Uni Adelaide commits to independent unit to investigate sexual misconduct

“We will and must do better,” says VC Peter Høj

The university has adopted all 22 proposals in a consultant’s report to improve the way the way it deals with reports of sexual assault and harassment.

Professor Høj’s KPIs will be linked to establishing the comprehensive programme, which includes, an “independent integrity unit” to undertake investigations of “sexual assault, sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour” across the entire university.

The proposal for the new resource specifies it must be, “independent of local areas, HR, Legal and Risk and the Division of Independent and Student Engagement.”

The report was commissioned in response to a recommendation from the SA Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.  ICAC called on the university to review how it manages sexual misconduct, “with a view to introducing a policy or policies that are understandable.”

Last year ICAC Commissioner Bruce Lander found former Uni Adelaide VC Peter Rathjen had made unwanted sexual advances to two staff members, which amounted to serious misconduct, (CMM August 27 2020).

Yesterday Professor Høj acknowledged the  new report has found;

“underlying problems with the university’s culture, with some students and staff saying they did not feel safe to report sexual assault, sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour. Others have said that their experience of reporting has left them unhappy with how the matter was handled, and some of them were distressed.”

The vice chancellor apologises to, “to victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other inappropriate behaviour occurring at Uni Adelaide.”