A new hotline service for student victims of sexual assault began operation on Monday, with the hope of providing much-needed support for university students all around Australia.
The new national hotline will be available to students around the clock, with specialist trauma counsellors from Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia at the helm to provide support for student survivors of sexual assault.
Director and founder of End Rape on Campus, Sharna Bremner, said on Monday that she hoped the hotline will help victims of assault and harassment.
Bremner said particularly in light of the report on sexual assault on Australian university campuses, which is due to be released on Tuesday.
“The hotline came about because we (End Rape on Campus) requested a special hotline for students, with 24/7 counselling,” Bremner said.
“We are hoping the hotline will provide immediate support for students. We’re anticipating tomorrow’s release of the report will impact a lot of people.’’
The report into sexual assault and harassment at universities will detail the results of a student survey – undertaken by all the 39 universities which are part of the Universities Australia (UA) group.
Bremner anticipated there will be “mass panic from the universities” in light of what she expects will be damning figures.
The release of the survey is likely to see a number of students reach out for help, according to UA chief Belinda Robinson.
She hoped the support line will complement existing services that are already in place for survivors.
“We expect the results will be challenging for everyone, but particularly so for the students, victims and survivors who have told their stories as part of this important project,’’ Robinson said.
`Universities want to send a clear message that sexual harassment and sexual assault are not acceptable, not anywhere.’’
The support line will operate until Nov. 30, when it will be re-evaluated to assess how many students accessed the service and whether it should be continued.