Government to publish plans to tackle sexual harassment and violence at third level

Government to publish plans to tackle sexual harassment and violence at third level
Education minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Government plans to introduce standards in the third level sector to tackle sexual harassment and violence are due to be published in the coming weeks.

Education minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor made the commitment during her keynote address at the final conference of the Ending Sexual Harassment and Violence in Third Level Education (ESHTE) project in Dublin today.

The event brought together more than 120 experts, students, higher education representatives and policymakers from across Europe.

The Government established a working group late last year to prepare a report on tackling sexual violence in third level education.

Ms Mitchell O'Connor told attendees that she had received the report and would publish its findings in the coming weeks.

“Harassment and assault are experiences too common for many of our third level students. Non-consenting experiences encompass sexual violence, rape, and assault. I look forward to launching my initiative in the coming weeks, where our overriding ambition is to embed a cultural change within our higher education institutions so we create safer and more respectful campuses. It is important that we assist our institutions in following best practice, development of their college policies, and working collaboratively in addressing sexual harassment and assault," she said.

The minister said the working group had devised "a roadmap for the implementation of a framework" in the area of sexual violence on college campuses and that her department was working on finalising these details.

Project Coordinator for the ESHTE project Tara Brown said it had developed a toolkit that can be used by higher education institutes to lead change in this area.

"This cannot be achieved by higher education institutes in isolation but requires a multi-agency approach. This is why the collaborative approach that we adopted as part of the ESHTE project, bringing together women’s organisations like the National Women's Council of Ireland, An Garda Síochána, sexual violence services, student bodies and Government departments, was so important in achieving positive change," she said.


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