University accommodation facilities need improved security and response services to deal with incidences of sexual assault, an independent report has found.
The University of Tasmania commissioned the Nous Group to conduct a review of its accommodation facilities which house 2000 students.
The review was in response to a 2016 study which revealed 31 per cent of UTAS students reported incidences of sexual harassment in 2015-16 and a further nine reports from students of being sexually assaulted over that period.
The report said the university had invested in sexual assault prevention and response measures.
But it noted from interviews with students in university-owned residents that there were concerns over the removal of late-night security patrols, particularly at Inveresk, which led to a feeling of vulnerability for residents.
It said there were concerns the Inveresk facility was exposed to non-residents, particularly people who had been drinking at nearby pubs, due to a lack of fencing and security doors to communal spaces.
Students part of consultations raised concerns there were no live-in staff or formal student leadership at John Fisher and Christ colleges.
There was also concern raised that contract security officers, who would play a first-responder role in the event of a sexual assault, did not have adequate training to deal with the situation.
Analysis from Nous as a result on consultants found there were inconsistencies in how sexual assault and sexual harassment was prevented, reported and responded to, and that there was a need to form concrete policies and guidance for overall behavioural expectations in accommodation facilities.
It recommended a behavioural policy was signed as part of a tenancy agreement and that people in pastoral care positions needed to be given mandatory training in sexual assault and sexual harassment, mental health first aid as well as bystander intervention.
It said regular patrols and adequate security presence was needed at all residences and reporting and response structures for sexual assaults needed to be better articulated.
University of Tasmania Pro Vice-Chancellor (Culture and Wellbeing) Professor Marg Otlowski said all recommendations from the report had been accepted and responses to date have either been completed or were ongoing.
She said specialised training of all residential staff and student leaders was now required as part of induction and counselling resources had increased in 2018.
Counselling would continue to be reviewed, Professor Otlowski said.