Release of Catharine Lumby Report: “a gold standard approach”

The College has this week received a Report from Professor Catharine Lumby on what we do and what we can do better to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct, and the College Board has announced its commitment to implementing all of the Report’s recommendations.

As reported in May 2022, St Mark’s commissioned Professor Lumby, from the University of Sydney, to undertake an independent expert review of what we do to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault from taking place within our College community, and how we respond when misconduct does occur.

Professor Lumby is one of the leading experts in this field, and has worked with Australian organisations including the National Rugby League, Google, Channel Ten, David Jones, Endemol Shine, and the Australian Defence Force.

Over the past five months Professor Lumby has undertaken extensive qualitative and quantitative research at St Mark’s, including focus group meetings with students, participation in a Student Leadership Retreat, administration of a comprehensive survey of students, multiple discussions with the Head of College, Professor Don Markwell, and consultations with senior staff. Professor Lumby has also reviewed relevant policies and other written materials. The Report received this week is the summary of the findings from that process.

The Report gives a very positive assessment of the College’s approach. Professor Lumby writes in the Executive Summary that

In terms of best practice, the College takes a gold standard approach to policy, practice, education, evaluation and to ensuring complaints are dealt with in a sensitive manner which respects due process. The commissioning of this Review further demonstrates the commitment of the College to ongoing evaluation and transparency.

Alongside this strong endorsement of the College’s approach, Professor Lumby provides a series of Recommendations which suggest changes that we can make to strengthen our practices further.

These Recommendations include ensuring that our policies are as straightforward and user-friendly as possible and continue to be reviewed on an annual basis; reviewing training and support provided to College staff; considering how best to communicate consequences of misconduct to the student community; and continuing to develop our training program for students in light of findings from the survey data.

The Chair of the Board, Ms Linda Mathews, warmly welcomed the Report and its Recommendations. She said that

Our foremost priority is the safety and wellbeing of our students, and Professor Lumby’s Report makes clear that our current approach is one which is proactive and informed. However we recognise that there is more that we can do, and we look forward to implementing in full the various Recommendations made in the Report.

The Report can be read in full at this link.

The most recent update on the College’s work on cultural renewal and upholding our values can be found here.

The College thanks all students who participated in the review by Professor Lumby.