1 March 2021

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has today (Monday) launched an eight week social media campaign aimed at helping education students and staff in higher education institutions manage disclosures of sexual harassment and violence.

 The campaign is being run by NUI Galway Active Consent, the Union of Students in Ireland and the Galway Rape Crisis Centre.

 ‘Start Here’ focuses on concrete tips and tools on how to respond if you learn of harassment or sexual violence taking place. These will be of practical benefit to preparing people to respond supportively and positively to survivors of this criminal activity.

 Speaking today, Minister Harris said:

My Department is determined to tackle sexual harassment and sexual violence in our Higher Education Institutions.

We are working together with Higher Education Institutions to ensure that we create a culture of zero tolerance. Staff and students are entitled to a safe environment to study and work free from harassment or violence.

Today is about practical advice for people who learn of a crime occurring, to learn how to support survivors in their community. It is aimed at helping those who are disclosed to by providing them with key information on what services exist and how to access them, so survivors can in turn be supported to make informed choices.

The Minister continued:

It also offers an opportunity for individuals to take Active* Consent’s self-guided 45-minute eLearning module on sexual violence and harassment. This is available across the country from today.

I once again want to pay tribute to NUI Galway for leading in this area.

 Dr Charlotte McIvor of NUI Galway’s Active* Consent said:

The “Start Here” campaign is based on a vision of partnership between college staff, students, and the rape crisis centre sector as we work together with USI and GRCC to give the broadest possible audience of staff and students basic information to support those in our community who have experienced sexual violence and/or harassment. 

We have met Minister Harris’s crucial leadership on consent, sexual violence and harassment and ongoing calls for action by designing a national campaign that gives students and staff to access key information and simple language. 

We hope “Start Here” will empower college staff and students as allies to survivors as we work together towards the common goal of ending sexual violence, an ongoing fight that must always return to a focus on the needs of survivors.

Minister of State Anne Rabbitte welcomed the announcement:

This is a significant step forward with concrete tips, tools and meaningful supports in Start Here.