Australian universities commissioned and funded the National Student Safety Survey, which ran in 2021.
The survey was conducted by the Social Research Centre (SRC) in partnership with leading violence prevention expert Associate Professor Anastasia Powell of RMIT University. Before it was deployed nationally, a pilot for the survey was conducted at two universities – the Australian National University and Charles Sturt University – during March and April 2021.
The survey built on and extended the foundational survey conducted in 2016 and collected data on the scale and nature of university student experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment to provide accurate and up-to-date information to universities about what is happening in their student communities.
To align with international best practice, the SRC developed behavioural questions regarding sexual assault. As this is different to the approach taken by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2016, comparability between the prevalence rate of the 2016 survey and the 2021 survey is limited.
The national survey randomly sampled 378,992 students from universities across the country and ran from Monday 6 September to Sunday 3 October 2021.
A total of 43,819 students participated in the survey, with a national response rate of 11.6%. 1,835 students shared their experiences via the Your Story portal, forming the qualitative component of the survey.