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AUT appoints QC in review into harrassment policies

Auckland University of Technology today released its final terms of reference into a review of its harassment policies, following allegations of sexual harassment regarding two senior academics. 

Source: 1 NEWS

University Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack has appointed Kate Davenport QC to conduct the review, which is able to look into, without limitation, sexual harassment. 

Key areas of investigation were:

  1. The University’s current workplace harassment policies and practices against best practice and state sector standards
  2. Whether and to what extent staff/students feel able to raise complaints and speak up about harassment (including, but not limited to sexual harassment); and
  3. The nature of, and the way, incidents of harassment have been handled by the university

The scope of the review would also include looking at the way incidents of harassment and bullying have been handled by the university and whether support and mechanisms for complaints were understood and consistently applied. 

Interviews are expected to be carried out with current and former staff, as well as students and other parties. 

Other related matters the reviewer considers appropriate can also be included.

“Key findings and recommendations will be made public, but information collected as part of the review will be confidential,” AUT said in a statement.

“Decisions about outcomes following the review will be for the council and/or the vice-chancellor.”

The university said the vice-chancellor had appointed Ms Davenport to “assure the fullest independence”. 

It said she would report directly to the university’s governing body.

AUT said the university and Ms Davenport wouldn’t provide media interviews during the review period.

The university said the review followed “recent media reports and commentary [which] have raised questions about the robustness of the university’s policies” around bullying and harassment.

Allegations surfaced following a Stuff investigation into allegations of sexual stalking and harassment by a senior academic towards an Australian National University researcher.

Claims were also made against a second senior AUT academic, who allegedly talked about his intimate life with colleagues.