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RAPE LAWSUIT SETS PRECEDENT FOR UNIVERSITY ASSAULTS

The ACT Supreme Court has upheld part of a judgment in a landmark civil claim brought by a young woman who was raped after a social event held at the Australian National University’s John College XXIII in 2015.

Shine Lawyers acted for the woman, who was attacked in an alleyway outside a nightclub by a fellow student. In one of the first claims of its kind, our client has been awarded $267,500 in damages.

The college was found to have compounded the woman’s trauma by failing to handle her complaint appropriately, even suggesting she was making a false allegation.

Shine’s Head of Abuse Law, Leanne McDonald, said the court’s decision to dismiss part of the college’s appeal has put universities around the country on notice.

“Our client’s bravery has been nothing short of inspirational throughout this process. This is a win for her, first and foremost, but we hope this decision gives the countless other survivors of sexual violence in our universities the courage to come forward and find their justice.

“This case highlights the dangers of drinking culture on our tertiary campuses, and is a warning to administrators to take complaints of sexual violence seriously,” Ms McDonald said.

A recent study found one in every twenty university students had been sexually assaulted, with just a fraction of those making a formal complaint.

In two-thirds of those cases, survivors knew their attackers.

“These attacks have a profound impact and can derail young people at an incredibly vulnerable time in their lives. It’s our educational institutions which need to learn the lesson here - they’ll pay the price if they don’t protect their students,” Ms McDonald said.


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Joe Hill
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