New trauma research partnership to Rely on

A new Flinders University industry partnership will consider how to best help people feel they can safely disclose traumatic events such as discrimination, bullying and harassment in a compassionate way.

The partnership with Melbourne-based technology company Rely utilises the company’s intelligent SaaS incident management system, which is designed to help organisations prevent, detect and respond to a range of workplace issues, from minor incidents through to serious misconduct.

Project lead Professor Melanie Takarangi, from the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, says the partnership will help her team’s research make real-world impact.

“I see this partnership as a meaningful way to apply our research by helping people speak up about traumatic events at work and feel supported in doing so,” says Professor Takarangi. “I’m delighted to be leading this partnership with Flinders University and Rely.”

With a growing body of research that shows people who have experienced traumatic incidents do not report the issue, the new project will aim to improve reporting across a broad range of topics.

The 2021 National Student Safety Report revealed that almost 20% of people experienced sexual harassment since starting university – but incidents are chronically under-reported, with only 1-in-30 people who are harassed and 1-in-20 people who are assaulted lodging a formal complaint.

Similarly, research by the Australian Human Rights Commission found while more than 70 percent of Australians have experience sexual harassment, only 18 percent made a formal report or complaint.

Flinders University trauma experts will provide research and insight to assist Rely develop a system that encourages victim-survivors to speak up without fear of being re-traumatised or stigmatised via the process. This knowledge-share will also help professionals who work in disciplines such as HR or Health, Safety and Wellbeing to provide appropriate support to employees who’ve experienced workplace trauma.

Rely CEO Nathan Luker says Flinders University was recommended to him as an expert in trauma research, and immediately recognised strong synergies between Professor Takarangi’s research and Rely’s vision.

“Through our extensive experience with whistleblowing disclosures and workplace investigations, we understand the importance of taking a trauma-informed and person-first approach,” said Mr Luker.

“Our customers tell us they want guidance on how to take a trauma-informed approach while keeping the process clear and consistent. It was always our vision to build a person-first approach into Rely but we needed to partner with an expert in trauma, and we were recommended to Professor Takarangi and her team at Flinders.”

Flinders University experts will guide Rely on design processes that support people, managers or HR professionals to report and record issues in a trauma-informed way, while ensuring the necessary details are captured to conduct a thorough investigation. This process includes such simple things as how to design intake forms and communication boards, through to more complex processes of workflows and automations.

Interested to learn more about this work? Click here to join Rely’s community of leaders who are passionate about building better workplaces.

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College of Education Psychology and Social Work