The University of Wollongong Set The Bar initiative, part of UOW’s wider initiative Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) focuses on the underlying issues of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and how to identify, call out and prevent inappropriate behaviour in public spaces and licensed venue.
The initiative was a result of the findings from a 2017 National Survey, by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Change the Course Report, with over 30,000 learners and all 39 Australian universities.
Some challenges and findings include:
In 2019, the Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC) team received a UOW Community Engagement Grant for $13,000 to create and implement training for staff at licensed premises on how to address and respond to sexual harassment and sexual assaults in their venues. The initiative and online training program has been aptly branded as “Set The Bar”.
The SARC team is working closely with a community partner, Wollongong Local Liquor Accord, to implement this initiative. The Wollongong Local Liquor Accord is an industry-based group that works to reduce problems related to alcohol in the local area. Members of the Accord include Police, Council, and local liquor outlets and suppliers.
Keeping these findings in front of mind and on the matter of the students’ safety, UOW joined forces with OpenLearning to create engaging learning experiences in hopes to tackle and improve the issue moving forward. Furthermore, empowering local licensed venue staff, such as managers, bar staff, and security staff to be able to:
In collaboration with OpenLearning, UOW developed the high-quality training program aimed at licensed venues close to UOW campuses where students frequent. The short 60 - 90 minute course with flexible start dates allows learners to apply concepts in a practical way, onto their work life and beyond.
For learners who join the program, their benefits include:
In addition, by developing a program that employs a social constructivist approach to learning design, the program also fosters a community of practice whereby learners work together to:
As a result, the program was highly effective and successful in meeting the project goals with over 80 enrolments to the course to date. Through the Set the Bar online course, learners are given the tools and information to address the goals outlined. Through a variety of activities, learners implement their concepts, practice techniques and learn together. Therefore, the course participants are equipped to begin making local venues safer for everyone.
Learners of the program also have positive reviews of their experiences with the course. Examples of testimonials have been provided below:
One learner notes: “In general, the layout and ease of access to the information is fantastic through the whole course. The visual cues and range of exercises are really good, particularly when combined with the ease of use of the site and availability of help text. The content is incredibly well done, you should all be really happy and proud!”
Another learner mentions: “The course is a great addition to preventative measures within the community. Every detail of ‘Set the Bar’ aims to deliver information concisely and in a relevant manner, which it has succeeded in. By providing a community based ‘thought bubble’ where participants can share ideas and engage in discussion, the course emphasises that individuals can make a difference in preventing SASH matters. It is an excellent initiative.”
With favourable feedback from stakeholders and participants, this reinforces how important this kind of training and support is for the community.
NSW Liquor and Gaming have indicated strong support of this training initiative and have expressed interest in using Set The Bar as a community partnership case study. While this course and campaign were initially designed for the Wollongong area, NSW have also expressed interest and support for the University of Wollongong in promoting this training to other Liquor Accords throughout NSW.
Set The Bar has also been named as a finalist in the LearnX awards for Best Learning and Development Project (Best Learning Campaign). This award focuses on a campaign-based learning project that was implemented to create behavioural change, with winners to be announced on 17 November.
University of Wollongong (UOW) was founded on the donations of local people with a vision of a brighter future for the region. UOW has become one of the world’s best modern universities, ranking 23rd on the Times Higher Education Young University Rankings 2021.