Review of ACICIS Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Assault and Harassment (PSEAH) Policies and Practices

In May 2019, the ACICIS National Reference Group (RG) commissioned a review of the consortium’s prevention of sexual exploitation, assault and harassment (PSEAH) policies and practices. There were three significant drivers for this review, including:

The terms of reference for the ACICIS PSEAH review can be viewed here.

Over the course of the review (performed between June and October 2019), interviews were conducted with current and former ACICIS staff, National Reference Group members, representatives from several non-university third-party study abroad providers, and relevant staff at eight ACICIS member universities.

The product of the review was an options paper. This options paper was presented to the ACICIS National Reference Group at its annual meeting in Yogyakarta in November 2019.

All nineteen recommendations set out in the options paper were endorsed by the RG, and a funding allocation of $67,000 has been set aside within the consortium’s 2020 budget to underwrite the implementation of these recommendations.

The options paper included recommendations to improve ACICIS’ existing approach to preventing and responding to SEAH incidents, as well as to improving broader approaches to critical incident management; complaints and grievances processes; staff inductions and training; student participation agreements, pre-departure materials and on-arrival orientation; as well as to the consortium’s leadership and governance structures.

Provided below is full list of the recommendations endorsed for implementation:

Recommendation #1: Establish connections between the ACICIS Secretariat and UWA’s SEAH Advisory Body (The Safer Communities Working Group);

Recommendation #2: Establish the practice of ‘leading from within’, including the following actions:

2.1  The ACICIS National Reference Group (RG) to nominate a ‘PSEAH Champion’ who is not the Consortium Director (potentially an individual who has received SEAH training at their home institution); or

2.2. RG to consider establishing a Risk Management Sub-Committee;

2.3. PSEAH issues to be a standing item on RG Meeting Agendas; implement regular high-level reporting (whether any incidents have occurred; how they were dealt with; how recommendations are being implemented). Consider ‘flow through’ reporting to UWA’s Safer Communities Working Group;

2.4. A commitment to the prevention and response of sexual abuse and harassment to be included in the role description for RG Members, Deputy Members; and Members by invitation;

2.5. Develop induction materials for new RG members which include general information about risk management and specific information about how ACICIS prevents and responds to SEAH; and

2.6. Establish a Risk Register and associated monitoring/review procedures with input from ACICIS senior staff and selected RG Member(s).

Recommendation #3: Consideration of update to the wording of the ACICIS Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) to include:

  • References to prevention and response to SEAH;
  • References to general student wellbeing (currently absent); and
  • References to the application of ACICIS’ procedures in a defined ‘critical incident’ (See recommendation 11).

Recommendation #4: Establish a student/participant advisory body to engage and empower students in preparing future ACICIS participants.

Recommendation #5: Develop and deliver information for students about preventing and responding to SEAH in Indonesian contexts that complements (not duplicates) education programs in their home universities. This information should focus on the learning abroad environment and the specific cultural settings of Indonesia and should be delivered in multiple formats, for example prior to departure in a handbook or video module and during on-arrival or post-arrival orientation as a face-to-face session;

5.1. Year 1: Third-party delivery;

5.2. Year 2: In-house (ACICIS) development and delivery of PSEAH materials

Recommendation #6: Develop and deliver information for ACICIS Foundation staff (both Indonesian and non-Indonesian staff; full-time, part-time and sessional) that addresses the behaviours that constitute SEAH as well as DFAT’s new PSEAH Policy and relevant new ACICIS policies and procedures.

Recommendation #7: Develop and deliver ‘train the trainer’ sessions to selected staff members so that staff can lead future programs for students and as part of annual staff training.

Recommendation #8: Share resources with Indonesian Host Institutions and other Indonesian stakeholders to foster a ‘partner’ (not ‘police’) approach to changing attitudes and behaviours in relation to SEAH in Indonesian contexts.

Recommendation #9: Develop an ACICIS Statement on Preventing SEAH, which refers to UWA’s policy as well as to Indonesian contexts.

Recommendation #10: Develop a secure reporting system for SEAH disclosures in line with the process used by UWA.

Recommendation #11: Develop definitions of ‘critical’ incidents and ‘non-critical’ incidents.

Recommendation #12: Develop simple, ‘checklist’ procedures for a limited set of critical incidents, including:

  • Participant death
  • Missing participant
  • Critical medical incident
  • Legal incident
  • Breach of PSEAH Policy
  • Natural disaster
  • Civil and political unrest
  • Critical incident in home country

Recommendation #13: Identify staff most likely to deal with critical incidents, including SEAH disclosures. Develop and deliver specialised critical incident (including SEAH reporting) training and scenario-based training.

Recommendation #14: Develop relationships with external services in each host location so that students can be referred to these services during a critical or non-critical incident.

Recommendation #15: Reports on SEAH disclosures to be made to the RG on a six-monthly basis with a focus on capacity and continuous improvement.

Recommendation #16: Forge connections with UWA’s own internal reporting body, specifically in relation to study abroad. Work with this group (through regular meetings) with a focus on identifying trends and concerns; and responding to these. ACICIS needs to be placed in the institutional setting of UWA, and establish processes to actively investigate what member universities are doing. This is an opportunity to lead in the sector and share best practice.

Recommendation #17: ACICIS to re-develop written materials about in-country accommodation options provided to participants to clearly state that no due-diligence has been undertaken. ACICIS staff to also adopt this approach when speaking with students about accommodation to ensure consistent messaging. ACICIS to also develop a ‘Safe Accommodation Checklist’ resource to assist students.

Recommendation #18: ACICIS to revise contracts for ACICIS Foundation Staff to include adherence to ACICIS’ new Position on PSEAH (see Recommendation 10) as well as to include requirements for police checks in role descriptions; job advertisements, and upon commencement of employment.

Recommendation #19: Review and revise ACICIS’ Privacy Policy and Complaints Policy and procedures.

ACICIS has been and will continue to implement the above recommendations over the course of 2020.

Relevant staff at ACICIS member universities are welcome to access a full copy of the PSEAH options paper produced for the National Reference Group from which the above recommendations are drawn. Please contact the ACICIS Secretariat at or on (08) 6488 6675 to request a copy.