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What is the new national student ombudsman?

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national student ombudsman

A national body will be established to respond to sexual harassment and assault on university campuses. It’s to be called the national student ombudsman.

Education Ministers from around the country voted in favour of creating the ombudsman at a meeting today.

The ombudsman will be an independent body with special powers to investigate student complaints and resolve disputes with unis.

According to a recent survey, one in six Australian students had been sexually harassed at university while one in 20 had been sexually assaulted.

Safety concerns

National data collected in 2021 found sexual violence was common on uni campuses, in student accommodation, and in clubs and societies. It also found victim-survivors faced barriers to attending classes and finishing their studies.

Last year, dozens of university groups and individuals called on the Federal Government to do more to address sexual violence.

They called for a new independent body to hold universities to account and compel them to improve their responses to sexual violence complaints.

Ombudsman

The government responded to those calls with a draft plan to address gender-based violence at uni.

It proposed an independent body, called the National Student Ombudsman, that could address complaints about several on-campus issues, including student safety. It suggested the body be granted powers to investigate alleged wrongdoing by education providers.

This body would be required to submit an annual report to the government to provide an update on its work.

Next steps

The Federal Government will draft legislation to formally establish the student ombudsman after Education Ministers agreed to it today.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said the ombudsman would represent an important step forward in addressing sexual violence at Australian universities.

“Not enough has been done to tackle sexual violence in our universities and for too long students haven’t been heard. That now changes.”

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