25 September 2023

ANU audit to check counselling quality

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The Australian National University (ANU) is to conduct an audit of the counselling services provided to students who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment while at the university.

The audit was a recommendation of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report, Change the Course.

The Commission said universities should conduct an audit of their counselling services to assess their capacity of to respond to students’ requests for counselling in an appropriately timely manner.

It also said university counselling staff should have received training in working with sexual assault survivors and that universities should collect data on the average length of time students were required to wait to see a university counsellor, and the number of urgent or crisis requests for counselling that were received.

In a statement, the ANU said the consultancy team would be conducting interviews with key stakeholders next week, starting 7 May, and the week after.

“Students who have accessed, or who have attempted to access, counselling services at the ANU are invited to provide feedback,” the statement said.

“The consultants would like to know: What you sought support for (not compulsory, but very helpful)? How long it took to get an appointment? Was the appointment long enough? How often you saw a counsellor? And whether that experience was beneficial to you?”

The statement said the consultants would also ask if you went to see them as a result of sexual assault, attempted assault or sexual harassment, did they seem to have the depth of knowledge and understanding that would help people through these issues? And what could have been improved to make the service more helpful and accessible to you, if anything?

“Students are encouraged to take part in this important audit to enable the university to determine if there are enough counselling staff and the right mix of counsellors to adequately support students who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment,” the statement said.

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