In 2017, The Australian Human Rights Commission conducted a randomised survey of university students, including students here at Victoria University, and released the National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities. The report offered many suggestions for Universities to adopt and while we think those recommendations are fantastic, here at VU we want to do even better!

This initiative was created with a group of Flinders students from the ground up, to reflect campus culture and what we think everyone needs to appreciate – consent, respect and empathy. The campaign is called Be a Better Human (BaBH), because we don’t just want it to be about what we shouldn’t do; we want it to be about self-improvement for everyone. And when we say ‘everyone’, we really do mean everyone. We’re encouraging everyone who is part of our campus community to take a moment and consider how we can ‘better’ our behaviour.

The general outline of this project is to bring in materials on education, including booklets, merchandise (t-shirts, pens, etc) as well as to hold a clubs festival space where the information can be passed along to students in a personalised manner. This would include Be a Better Human campaign info, student club stalls, performances and special guest speakers, free food and giveaways including awesome BaBH shirts, pens and more!

Events like the BaBH festival help build a culture of respect, empathy and consent for all students and staff.

“Victoria University has a zero tolerance approach to violence in any form, including sexual and gender-based violence. Gender-based violence is a serious social issue driven by gender inequality and enabled by sexist attitudes and behaviours. We work to build a culture of safety and respect, where students and staff are empowered to become change agents to help stop gender-based violence at the University and in the wider community.” (VU Respect & Responsibility)

Project Outcomes:

In-line with the Respect and Responsibility & VUSU Bystander Awareness Training, VUSU believes that bringing the BaBH campaign to VU further develops education for students of the west to be a better human. “It is important that we all show that sexism and harassment have no place at our university. Everyone should be treated fairly and have a safe and respectful place to learn.” (VU Respect & Responsibility email).

Increasing visibility and knowledge of being a better human is vital to ALL students and staff at VU. We will be aiming to spread this festival across many campuses. The outcomes / benefits to students will include an environment where students and staff feel supported and empowered. It will raise awareness of the VU and VUSU services available to students and staff, as well as education on respectful relationships, consent, and empathy. This project will also create a safe space for students to express themselves, and to learn.

Be a Better Human Campaign is being run by many Student Unions across the nation (i.e. La Trobe University Student Union, Flinders University Student Association). It is an amazing campaign to run, and part of the 2019 VUSU objectives. We will be utilising vusuteers, team members, and students to bring this campaign to life!