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In 2017, The Australian Human Rights Commission conducted a randomised survey of university students, including students here at UNE, and released the National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities. The report offered many suggestions for Universities to adopt and while we think those recommendations are fantastic, here at UNE Life we want to do even better!

This initiative was created with a group of students from the ground up, to reflect our campus culture and what we think everyone needs to appreciate – consent, respect and empathy. The campaign is called Be a Better Human, because we don’t just want it to be about what we shouldn’t do; we want it to be about self-improvement for everyone. And when we say ‘everyone’, we really do mean everyone. We’re encouraging everyone who is part of our campus community to take a moment and consider how we can ‘better’ our behaviour.

If you’re interested in being a better human too, please don’t just stop here – there is more to see, hear, and do - grab a copy of our booklet and join the discussion in person or online - #BeABetterHuman.

Let’s figure out how we can all be better humans.

Thanks to the amazing team at Flinders University Student Association for their hard work and dedication to this campaign.

REPORTING ON CAMPUS

Students. Staff. Anyone.
UNE has a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment & sexual assault.

Find out how and when to report.

Decal for web

Consent

 

Let's talk about it? How do you define "consent"? Have a read about the importance of affirmative consent, consent in relationships and the importance of communication in consent.  

assault / harassment

 

There's a lot of myths out there about sexual assault and with the digital realm growing faster than ever, it can be hard to keep up. We pose a few myth-busting scenarios and talk about dating apps.

Bystander behaviour

 

Being an everyday hero has never been easier. We talk about what bystander intervention is, why it's one of the most important things in being a better human, and how to do it effectively. 

Rape culture

 

We know these words will illicit all kind of responses, from scoffs of anger about the term, to deep sighs about the state of things. But it's just some words used to describe some things. It's the THINGS we need to focus on. 

YOU'RE NOT A BAD PERSON.

BUT MANY PEOPLE LIVE WITH THE FEAR OF BEING SEXUALLY ASSAULTED.
IT'S UP TO ALL OF US TO BE AWARE OF THE SIGNALS WE'RE SENDING & RECEIVING.

LET'S TALK ABOUT CONSENT

 

Consent is about saying “yes” and about respecting and accepting a person’s right to say “no”. Consent is required at any stage of being intimate with someone – asking for a dance, a date, to make out – and at any point in a relationship, whether you’ve just met or you’ve been going steady since the dawn of time.

 

AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT

Affirmative consent is when the verbal and physical cues a person is giving you show that they are comfortable, consenting and keen to continue. It’s all about the proactive asking and giving of consent between people. A “no” is still a ‘no’, but the absence of an enthusiastic and ongoing “yes” is a ‘no’ as well.

Every person has the right to choose to have sex the way they want, and to make that choice freely every time without feeling pressured due to their circumstances or out of fear of repercussions. Saying “yes” to a kiss or allowing your partner to touch you, caress you, take your top off etc. does not imply a yes to everything.

The most basic thing to remember is that consent is voluntary, enthusiastic and continuous.

 

WITHOUT CONSENT

If someone does something to you that you don’t want, for example, coercing you into sex when you’ve said – or were unable to say – no, then that’s non-consensual sex, and sex without consent is considered indecent assault or rape under New South Wales law.

But what does ‘without consent’ really mean? Being bullied, tricked or intimidated with words or violence into having sex or physical contact is coercive control and that’s non-consensual; so is having sex with someone who cannot clearly and freely give consent. This category includes minors (under the age of 17), people who are intoxicated, passed out or asleep, as well as those with a mental impairment that may inhibit them from being fully aware of what they are agreeing to.

If you haven’t consented to sexual activity, you have a legal right to take action and you can go to the police and report the sexual assault or rape as a crime.

ASSAULT & HARASSMENT

Sexual Assault

 

Sexual Assault is a criminal offence and covers many different types of sexual behaviour that can be understood as unwanted or forced, including:

  • Indecent Assault – unwanted touching, fondling, masturbation
  • Rape – unwanted oral, anal or vaginal penetration, and
  • Sexual Harassment – unwanted repeated sexualised comments, “passes”, dirty jokes, sexual questions.

Sexual assault is a violation of trust; an exploitation of vulnerability and an abuse of power that can happen to anyone regardless of race, gender, sexuality, religion or disability. Sexual violence does not always include physical touch. It might involve, but is not limited to, coercion, manipulation, grooming or other non-physical acts of a sexual kind that make a person feel unsafe.

This is not an exhaustive list of common myths surrounding sexual assault. Get educated and know the facts, at
healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Common-myths-about-sexual-assault

Sexual Harassment

 

Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour where a reasonable person, having regard for all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the person harassed might feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It can be a form of discrimination against the victim, and is an inappropriate assertion of power by the perpetrator. Sexual harassment can occur in person or online. Common examples include:

  • making unwanted remarks regarding a person’s appearance or attractiveness
  • asking a person questions about their relationship or sex life
  • sending emails with sexual content
  • showing a person pornographic pictures on a phone or computer
  • unnecessarily touching the person without their consent

Sexual harassment in the context of school or work can seem pretty straight-forward (we know what’s appropriate and what’s not) but when it comes to meeting people ‘out’ and building relationships, signs can be misread and faux pas made. In any environment, it is important that you assess the situation. If you feel you are in danger, take immediate precautions. If you believe that the person approaching you has simply overstepped their bounds or lacked the ability to read the room (and you); let them know that their behaviour was not okay and that they made you feel uncomfortable. If at any point you think that the comment or behaviour of any individual constitutes sexual harassment and you want to report it, you can do so by contacting the services on the right.

 

DigitalHarassment

While there are no specific laws (as yet) protecting you against online harassment on dating platforms, most apps and websites – whatever their colour or creed – have their own reporting protocol in place to deal with fake accounts, harassment and online bullying. Get to know the inner workings of your app of choice and how the reporting feature works. In situations where you feel your welfare is in danger take screenshots of the conversation, and call the police directly. Here are a few things to remember the next time you start swiping:

  1. Communication is key, even via text, so read the proverbial ‘chat room’ and make sure the direction the conversation is heading is consensual for both parties.
  2. Keep in mind that sending a nude or unlocking your private gallery does not mean the receiver has to do the same. ‘An eye for an eye’ does not apply.
  3. Don’t send unsolicited pics – ask first. Know that if you send a pic before asking, it could be received negatively (this includes the person on the other end going silent). Don’t continue to send images or badger them. You made a choice to send an image, and they made the choice not to humour it.
  4. If you and the hottie on the other end do decide to exchange pics, don’t take screenshots or save the image to your phone to show friends – they gave permission for you to view the pic only.

Image-based abuse is serious with stats showing that 1 in 5 people have or will be the victim of revenge porn in their lifetime, but in many cases image-based abuse is not about ‘revenge’, nor is it restricted to ‘porn’.

Revenge porn can occur for a range of reasons, and while most image-based abuse is about the sharing of images without consent, it can also include the threat of an image being shared.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • Posting nude images without the other person’s permission can be deemed illegal distribution of an invasive image, regardless of the person’s age or whether they originally consented to them being taken. It can also be considered a menacing, harassing or offensive use of the internet or mobile phone – all of which are crimes under New South Wales law with a maximum jail time of three years.
  • If you learn there is a photo of you posted online without your permission, you can do something about it: (A) If it has been posted on social media, you can contact the relevant website and ask to have it removed, and (B) contact the Office of the E-Safety Commissioner or the police to report the matter. It’s easy to feel embarrassed and ashamed if this happens to you, but know that you are not to blame

Telling someone may be hard but help is available and can make a difference in recovery.

UNE Counselling & Psychological services provides a free, confidential service that puts your safety and privacy first.
For more information, visit: https://www.une.edu.au/current-students/support/student-support/counselling.

If you feel you are unsafe, call Safety & Security for assistance on 6773 2099 or locate a Campus Security hotline phone.

RAPE CULTURE

 

The term ‘rape culture’ can sound pretty extreme and it elicits all kinds of responses, whether it’s scoffs of anger about the terminology and what it represents, or a deep sigh at the state of things. But what does the term mean? Rape culture is used to describe the environment where sexual violence is normalised and excused – that it’s “just the way things are”.

Rape culture is perpetuated through media and pop-culture by use of misogynistic language and jokes, the objectification of women’s bodies and the glamorisation of violence, creating a culture that ignores women’s rights and safety and makes sexual coercion seem normal. Why is it so dangerous? Because it reinforces the continuum of sexual violence, starting with so called “jokes”, and finishing with rape and murder.

 

MYTHS & RAPE CULTURE

Phrases like “she asked for it” or “boys will be boys” are examples of rape culture; so too are attitudes based on gender stereotypes – that being a ‘man’ means you should be dominant and aggressive; that being a ‘woman’ means you need to be submissive and sexually passive; that men ought to score and women ought to be nice and not act so cold. Accepting rape myths only helps to create environments in which many individuals – women, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community –  are disempowered.

Rape culture is tasking victims with the burden of rape prevention. Rape culture is encouraging women to learn self-defence as though that is the only solution required to prevent rape. Rape culture is warning women to “learn common sense” or “be more responsible” or “avoid these places” or “don’t dress this way”; failing to caution men to not rape. – Melissa McEwan, Rape Culture 101

The legacy of rape culture and victim blaming affects everyone, but let’s focus on women as an example. Although most males are decent humans and thankfully many females are never the victims of rape, the existence of sexual assault and rape in our community means women do change their behaviour, whether it’s learnt (“don’t go out wearing that”) or out of fear (“I should get home before it’s too dark”).

50% of Australian women for example, don’t feel comfortable walking a short distance home after a night out for fear of being harassed or assaulted, whereas a guy more than likely would (79.2%).

Being on the receiving end of ‘locker room talk’, up skirting, catcalls, stalking, all the way to coercion, harassment and sexual violence can happen to our students. So who are we kidding? Let’s all try to be better humans and speak up instead of staying silent. Let’s put a stop to the behaviour that normalises rape culture.

 

BREAKING THE CYCLE

So what can you do to break the cycle?

  • Get to know yourself. Define your manhood, womanhood or whoever you want to be, free from stereotypes.
  • Think critically about the media’s portrayal of gender identities, relationships, sex and violence, and be supportive of alternative portrayals – e.g. that men can be empathetic; that women can be assertive.
  • Avoid using language that puts people down, objectifies or degrades.
  • Speak out if you hear a sexist joke. It’s not cool and it’s just lazy.
  • Respect people’s personal space and need for alone time.
  • Learn to communicate openly with your partner, lover or friend; that includes both the speaking and the listening parts.
  • Advocate and practice affirmative consent, never assume it’s given.
  • Know that the myths we mentioned earlier are just that, myths. Take it seriously if someone tells you they were raped or sexually assaulted.

When it comes down to it, this is an issue of equality, not in the sense of ‘who has the most money or power’ but equality in building empathy, mutual respect and the ability to enjoy the same rights.

ACTIVE BYSTANDER

An active bystander is someone who, when noticing a situation that concerns them, does something about it – they are everyday superheroes. This might be similar to the scenario mentioned on the previous page; maybe you’re looking out for your friends, maybe you’re calling them out when they are making an offensive comment towards another person. Each situation is different, but there are some basic things you can do in any scenario:

Notice-the-Event
Identify-if-its-a-problem
take-responsibility
Make-a-Plan
Act

 

STEP ONE.
A friend showing you a nude that was sent to them privately, hearing someone making a homophobic, sexist or racist remark towards another person or group, or noticing a peer incessantly pursuing someone who is not interested – these are all situations where you might intervene.

STEP TWO.
Interpreting an event as a problem requires judgement on your part, but as a guide, question whether the situation at hand makes you feel uncomfortable. Would you behave the same way? Would this kind of behaviour be okay if it were occurring to a friend or family member? If you are unsure about positively answering these questions, or the answer makes you feel uncomfortable, chances are this is a situation for intervention.

STEP THREE.
This is perhaps the hardest step; deciding to step up. In difficult situations we often assume that someone else will do something – surely the woman at the club has friends who will come to her aid – but if we all assume someone else will step in, nothing will happen.

STEP FOUR.
There are a number of different ways to intervene and step in – either directly or indirectly – just remember to be respectful and mindful of your own safety and theirs in whatever approach you take, whether you decide to act in the moment or check-in with the person concerned after the fact to see how they feel.

STEP FIVE.
Choosing to not participate in a negative conversation or calling-out bad behaviour; derailing an incident from occurring by distracting the would-be perpetrator (i.e. ask for the time, directions, what drink they’re having); offering assistance to the victim by listening or helping them to report the incident – these are just some of the ways you can intervene and be an active bystander.

WHY IT'S SOMETIMES DIFFICULT

Being an active bystander can be challenging at times – with great power comes great responsibility.

For starters, we all fall victim to apathy at times. You might fail to notice an incident is occurring due to noise or other sensory distractions (i.e. looking down at your phone), or you might find it difficult to judge whether an incident such as the woman in the aforementioned club is at ‘high-risk’ or not – what if you misread the signs?

Research suggests that our judgement is sometimes influenced by the myths we mentioned earlier. What we have to remember is that these myths are false ­ – wearing provocative clothing does not constitute sexual availability, for example. Research also shows that people are less likely to help in situations where the perception of ‘need’ is ambiguous. The trick is to be present and notice what is occurring around you, and to learn to be critical of our own perceptions and attitudes of others.

Second, you might feel uncertain about how to best intervene. You might not feel physically equipped to step in, or you might find the whole experience embarrassing, awkward or scary.

The thing to remember is that looking out for someone is nothing to be embarrassed about. It demonstrates empathy and concern. Being an active bystander does not always require you confront the situation yourself. You can contribute to defusing the situation by informing someone in a position of authority that an incident might be occurring – bar staff or campus security for example.

Dos-and-Donts-Tab-1024x200

HELPFUL RESPONSES

  • Seek safety and privacy.
  • Encourage them to take their time and take what they say seriously.
  • Remember that they want to be heard by you. You don’t have to be an expert to listen.
  • Acknowledge the courage it has taken for them to disclose to you.
  • Assist them to get the information they want in order to make the best decision for them.
  • Support them in accessing the medical or emotional support they may want.

NOT SO HELPFUL RESPONSES

  • Minimising what the person says.
  • Forcing the person to seek help or do something they don’t want to do.
  • Insisting that they report the incident to the police.
  • Asking for details that are not necessary or too much detail.
  • Telling them that they need to forget about it and move on.
  • Blaming yourself or the person, asking questions like “Why didn’t you try to fight them off?”. The perpetrator is 100% responsible.
  • Making comments that might appear supportive, but could be upsetting, like “Where do they live? I’ll kill them”.

Your instinct might be to comfort the person with a hug, but only do so if you’re sure that they are comfortable with physical contact.
The key is to let them lead the way and to work through this process at their own pace. Be an ear and an open heart.

This is a UNE Life & Respect.Now.Always initiative

Made possible by the creativity and tireless efforts of Flinders University Student Association