By Dominic McGrath, PA
College students will be able to anonymously report sexual assault on a new online platform.
Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris will launch the platform on Tuesday.
Students can anonymously report an experience of sexual assault, rape and harassment, discrimination and bullying.
Mr Harris described it as an “incredibly important initiative” and one that would help create a “zero-tolerance culture”.
He said: “The creation of this innovative and supportive online platform will provide a safe and anonymous medium for students and staff to report incidents of bullying, assault or sexual violence in a trauma-informed environment.”
The project, called Speak Out, is led by the organisation Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI) and will see 18 Irish colleges and universities taking part.
Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, Dublin City University and NUI Galway are among the colleges taking part in the project, which will be launched in Irish colleges over the coming months.
It will be rolled out after a 2019 report on consent in higher education stressed the need for data to be collected on the frequency of sexual harassment and violence on college campuses.
A similar project is already running in University College Dublin.
Gertie Raftery, chairman of PCHEI, said the project gave a “voice for students and staff in higher education to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment, violence or intimidation of any kind”.
It is hoped the initiative will provide officials with data and fresh insight that will be used to inform new polices to support students.
The project has also received the backing of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI).
The union’s welfare officer Somhairle Brennan said: “We know from previous research, and what we regularly hear from students and student representatives, that further action is needed to continue to support students who experience sexual violence or harassment or other forms of aggression or bullying.
“The launch of the Speak Out tool is a welcome step forward in continuing to destigmatise conversations about consent.
“It will hopefully empower students who have had a non-consensual sexual experience to have their voice heard in a way that feels safe for them.”