New website tackles sexual and dating violence amongst University of Melbourne students

My Safety website
Graphics from My Safety website

University students are a high-risk group for both dating violence and sexual violence. However, studies suggest that they may not recognise harmful behaviours (whether they are experiencing them or using them) and do not seek help. MySafety is a new website developed for students at The University of Melbourne by Dr Laura Tarzia and colleagues from the Department of General Practice and School of Social Work. It was funded by Chancellery through the SSAF (Student Services and Amenities Fee) scheme. The website is aimed at a diverse range of students who are:

  • Worried about unhealthy or violent behaviour from their partner in a relationship;
  • Worried about their own behaviour in a relationship;
  • Worried about a sexual experience or
  • Concerned about a friend’s relationship or a friend’s sexual experience.
My safety website
Graphics from My Safety website

The website contains interactive elements that can help students reflect on their relationship and assess whether things that are happening might be abusive, understand the complexities around sex and consent; find out the pros and cons of accessing different forms of support; and make a decision about what to do next. It also contains contact details and links to different services both on and off campus that students can get in touch with for further help and support. MySafety is anonymous, and was developed in close consultation with students, stakeholders within the University, and the Respect Taskforce to ensure that it meets the needs of our community. Preliminary feedback from students has been positive. One student wrote:

“Thank you so much for this website, it's helped me clarify definitions and put labels on what I have experienced in my past relationship, i.e. sexual assault. This knowledge will help me address specific issues with my psychologist and open up with friends and family.”

Please share and promote MySafety to help keep our student community safer. Particularly during this challenging time, it is critical that we provide students with tools to help navigate sex and relationships.

Social media key message: “New website for students worried about a relationship or a sexual experience launched by Department of General Practice researchers”.

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