Great news – Senator Amanda Stoker has fired another round. I reported last week on her blast at TEQSA, our university regulator, for failing to protect the legal rights of people, usually men, accused of sexual assault on campuses. Last night she was speaking to Peta Credlin on Sky News and brilliantly exposed many of the flaws in the appalling university regulations governing this issue.
Please help me circulate this, particularly to people working in higher education and those who can spread the word about what’s happening here.
Amanda Stoker is a former barrister and criminal prosecutor and was able to spell out the lack of procedural fairness in current regulations, explaining that the basic rights of the accused person are being “completely squashed” under the current system which offers none of the normal protections available in criminal law courts.
Stoker listed those missing protections, namely that the accused had no access to evidence against them, there was no effort to ensure the reliability of that evidence, no power to call evidence in their own defence, no legal representation, no presumption of innocence, no right of appeal.
A secretive, unsupervised committee would determine guilt on the balance of probabilities with power to impose serious penalties including expulsion from the university. As Stoker pointed out this means students thus punished have wasted money and time invested in their degrees and are likely to be excluded from chosen professions – all penalties not found in the criminal justice code.
We should be really troubled by this, said Stoker explaining that universities established these unjust rules in an effort to make sure women feel safe. But the resulting one-sided procedures are resulting in gross injustice, she said.
She added an extra serve for TEQSA which is supposed to be responsible for making sure universities are well governed. “They have entered the fray ..gone out on a limb to endorse a set of processes that are really unbalanced.” And they have done this “in circumstances where it is their job to ensure they are delivering balance and fairness as the corollary of public funding and public support that goes to our universities.” TEQSA is supposed to provide the checks and balances but instead “they are jumping on one side of the argument to the unfairness of others. That’s just not right.” Wow, those squirming bureaucrats must be still smarting from Stoker’s treatment last week and now she piles on this lot.
Well, as you can imagine I am absolutely delighted to have Stoker out there fighting the good fight on the issue I have spent the last year trying to get onto the public agenda. My campus tour was aimed at drawing public attention to this feminist tilting of sexual assault regulations to favor the victim and ensure more rape convictions.
My only concern is Stoker is offering to help TEQSA “work through the principles of natural justice….and deliver fairness.” But how will we ever know whether these unsupervised, secretive committees of untrained people are offering fairness to the accused?
It’s far better that we persuade universities to get out of the rape adjudication business and leave that to the criminal courts. No doubt this former criminal prosecutor is capable of getting the higher educator sector to see reason and vacate the territory.