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August 21, 2017 | by  | in News |
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ACC Campaign to Target Sexual Violence

ACC is allocating $1.4 million to an initiative that will combat sexual violence in tertiary institutions across New Zealand.

The three-year programme has been developed in conjunction with the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) and will be implemented across universities, polytechnics, and wānanga nationwide, focussing on sexual violence prevention and support.

The current support systems in place for students who report experiencing sexual violence will be reviewed and training programs will be introduced in halls of residence to educate first year students about sexual consent and healthy relationships.

ACC Violence Injury Prevention Manager, Mike McCarthy, told Salient that the emotional harm caused by sexual violence is the programme’s main focus. Sexual violence has “a huge impact on [a student’s] study, their relationships, and their future.”

McCarthy noted that 43% of sensitive claims to ACC — those made for mental or physical injuries caused by certain criminal acts, such as sexual violence — are made by people under 25.

McCarthy explained that the initiative will take a collaborative approach with staff and students. Ensuring students feel safe on campus requires that student health, staff, and management are on board to create a safe environment.

“It is important that we have policies and procedures that are known by the staff.”

NZUSA will release its report “In Our Own Words”, based on a survey conducted in 2016, on August 24. NZUSA President Jonathan Gee told Salient that the report highlights the experiences of students who have suffered sexual violence.

Gee said that focusing on the experiences of the students “provides an idea of the support that these students need […] and how to prevent these experiences from happening.”

Although the programme is aimed at tertiary students, the issue of sexual violence is a much broader problem, according to McCarthy.

ACC is working in a number of different areas to address sexual violence. The “Mates and Dates” initiative, piloted in 2014, is directed towards secondary schools throughout New Zealand. The initiative comprises a five-week course which is incorporated into the school curriculum at all levels, aiming to teach young people about healthy relationships and consent. “Mates and Dates” will be taught in 110 schools in 2017.

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