Now, here’s some positive news for a change. Mark Latham has achieved a real breakthrough in his role heading up an inquiry into Higher Education for the NSW Parliament. The inquiry’s final report, tabled today, includes Recommendation 36 which seeks to abolish the kangaroo courts in NSW universities.
Here’s what it actually says:
That the NSW Government ensure the rule of law and the processes of the NSW criminal justice system are respected by universities in dealing with alleged sexual offences. Universities must use the NSW Police as their first and most important point of reference in dealing with any allegation of the law being broken, in all instances, for all allegations. In particular, NSW universities must respect the presumption of innocence and not create their own ‘Kangaroo Court’ and tribunal processes that circumvent the rules and standards of natural justice established at law by the NSW Parliament. The NSW Government should establish a legal protocol for universities to follow in this regard and, if universities chose to ignore or breach it, the protocol should be legislated as mandatory for NSW universities.
This is the first time an Australian government has been asked to take action on the appalling system for adjudicating sexual assault in our universities, which usurps criminal law and denies accused students their legal rights.
That’s pretty exciting and it was good to see the submission from our Campus Justice group featuring prominently in the report. (See p80 -81, 6.47-6.49)
Next step is the report will be considered by Cabinet – which is where you come in. We must get a heap of letters into Cabinet Ministers to give them the backbone to follow this through. See here – a draft letter you can use to urge each Cabinet Minister to ensure action on this issue, plus email addresses of the ones we want to lobby.
So that’s your first task for 2021 – just a few minutes of your time to make sure we tip the balance on this critical issue.