Independent expert review by Professor Catharine Lumby

With much national debate on issues of gender and respectful relationships especially over the last 18 months, many institutions around Australia have been reviewing what they do in this area. This includes parliaments, courts, companies, universities, colleges, and other organisations.

More generally, the best organisations “check in” from time to time on their culture and their policies and practices.

In 2022, we at St Mark’s are marking the 40th anniversary of coeducation and have renewed our commitment to gender equality and to respectful relationships. We have been working hard and proactively to uphold these values and our culture of respect, inclusion, and safety. A recent update on our work towards this in recent years is here.

This year, we have considerably expanded our support for students with new staff appointments such as the creation of the position of Director of Wellbeing.

In the words of our new strategic plan, we are committed to “promoting student wellbeing and belonging in a safe, respectful, diverse, and inclusive community”. We want the College to be a leader in doing this.

The national debate and the National Student Safety Survey findings published in March have highlighted the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault in society, and the need to do all we can to prevent these and to respond appropriately when they do happen.

As a College that nurtures student leadership, we are keen to encourage our students to be part of the solution to these problems wherever they may be.

In this context, it is timely that we, like other institutions, take stock of how we are doing.

The College has therefore initiated an independent expert review of what we are doing and what we can do better to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual assault.

We have asked one of Australia’s leading experts in this field, Professor Catharine Lumby from the University of Sydney, to undertake this review and she has agreed.

Professor Catharine Lumby

Professor Lumby’s expertise in matters that include gender equality, cultural diversity, sexual violence prevention, young people and media, social media, and media content regulation has led her to being asked to speak to and consult with Australian organisations as diverse as the National Rugby League, Google, Channel Ten, David Jones, Endemol Shine, and the Australian Defence Force.

Catharine Lumby has an Arts (Hons)/ Law degree from Sydney University. After graduating she worked for two decades as a print and TV journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald, the ABC, and The Bulletin magazine. In the 1990s, she was awarded a prestigious Harkness Fellowship and spent five years living in New York attached to New York University as a visiting scholar.

Professor Lumby has a PhD from Macquarie University, and has held senior academic positions at the University of NSW, Macquarie University, and the University of Sydney.

For over 15 years, she worked closely with the National Rugby League to assist in designing and evaluating education programs aimed at supporting players to behave in ethically responsible ways off the field, including in their treatment of women and understanding and responding to the health and wellbeing needs of young men from diverse cultural backgrounds.

She has written and co-edited ten books and numerous book chapters and journal articles in her fields of research.

Professor Lumby will be undertaking her review over the next few months, aiming to have a report for the College by September.

Student input to the review

Student input will be essential for this review, and all students have been invited to give input, through focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and a student survey.

Details of these have been circulated to students, and the College will be very grateful to all students who contribute to the review in these ways.