Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce’s affair and child with staffer Vikki Campion triggered a ministerial sex ban.
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce’s affair and child with staffer Vikki Campion triggered a ministerial sex ban.

Where bonk ban is happening next

UNIVERSITIES will be urged to bring in a bonk ban for PhD students and their supervisors, as part of a series of guidelines to combat sexual harassment.

Universities Australia will today release a series of principles for institutions across the country to sign up to in a bid to combat sexual harassment and assault.

It is in reaction to a damning report released last year that showed widespread sexual harassment on campuses.

Universities Australia, the National Tertiary Education Union and Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations want unis to sign up to the proposed ban, which would be extended to include honours students and postgraduate coursework students.

Sexual misbehaviour by people in positions of power has been under more scrutiny, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this year issuing a bonk ban for ministers and their staff after the Barnaby Joyce love-child scandal.

Universities would voluntarily sign up to the principle, which clearly states the relationships were not appropriate due to the power imbalance and should not develop.

Institutions such as University of Queensland would be asked to sign up.
Institutions such as University of Queensland would be asked to sign up.

But it adds that if they do occur, the university immediately remove the supervisor from teaching roles with that student and find a new supervisor for the student.

"This unequal power ­dynamic means that the relationship can potentially be vulnerable to exploitation and can affect the capacity of a student to consent freely to sex or relationships," it states.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said under no circumstances should a faculty member supervise a student they were in a relationship with.

"We know it's the case that relationships do develop," she said.

"That's why you need an acknowledged, consistent approach to take the supervisor out of that equation.

"The supervisor has a lot of power over that student… that can influence consent matters.

"It can also influence perceptions for other students."

Last year, the Human Rights Commission found more than half of students surveyed were sexually harassed in 2016.

Ms Jackson said since then universities had initiated more than 800 actions to crack down on sexual assault or harassment, including respectful relationships and consent education programs and providing greater access to counselling.