When the Australian Human Rights Commission reported the staggering 2017 numbers around sexual harassment and sexual assaults at Australian universities – experienced by 21 per cent and 1.6 per cent of students respectively, Charles Sturt recognised the need to create change.
Since then, Charles Sturt has joined 38 universities across the country in the nation-wide initiative “Respect. Now. Always”, streamlining their processes around information, support, and reporting any kind of sexual misconduct.
But Charles Sturt knew it wasn’t enough to tell students about their zero-tolerance policy simply. They wanted to educate and empower all of their students to live it as well actively.
The result is Subject Zero, an integrated approach that addresses the problem from a bold new perspective: transforming sexual conduct into a university subject with ‘zero tolerance for failure’. This national program will begin during O Week 2021, rebranded as Zero Week, and will roll-out in a series of tangible actions across the year.
Prof. John Germov, the interim vice-chancellor, said: “We wanted to make clear from our students’ first day, on-campus or online, that Charles Sturt has a zero-tolerance for sexual assault, sexual harassment or any form of inappropriate and disrespectful behaviour or illegal sexual misconduct. We want our students to be confident of putting this policy into practice and to know where to get further help, information, or report incidents.”
Marcus Tesoriero, executive creative director of BWM dentsu, said: “Charles Sturt is known as the university of doing, and this sparked our thinking that they could take action in a very legitimate way. Rebranding the well-established O Week into Zero Week to launch their zero-tolerance policy right from students’ earliest on-campus moments and then weaving sexual conduct into the university’s curriculum itself was a natural evolution. It’s a program we believe will make a real difference in students’ lives.”
The project includes:
- Zero Week: the university’s traditional O Week has been rebranded as “Zero Week”, with this change communicated across all Charles Sturt campuses via branded signage, T-shirts, and beer coasters.
- Subject Zero: Starting in Zero Week, Charles Sturt students will see interactive tutorial posters around campus, where QR codes link them to a Learn How To platform with online lessons, interactive quiz components, and further reading. The tutorial topics include: Reporting sexual misconduct, Booking a confidential conversation with a specialist counsellor, Understanding and getting consent, Being safe on campus, and Calling out harassment.
- Further Initiatives: In 2021, Charles Sturt will make Subject Zero a compulsory part of every student’s degree and launch a range of further initiatives – all part of the subject – to ensure every student can put the university’s zero-tolerance policy into practice.