NUI Galway launches Speak Out for students and staff

Launching the Speak Out online tool at NUI Galway were, from left: James McCormack, Head of Student Counselling; Gemma MacNally, Student Counsellor; Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, NUI Galway President; Dr Padraig MacNeela, Lecturer with the School of Psychology and Active* Consent Programme Co-Lead; and Róisín Nic Lochlainn, NUI Galway Students’ Union President. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy.
Nov 05 2021 Posted: 15:18 GMT

NUI Galway launches Speak Out for students and staff

 Groundbreaking online tool set up for people to anonymously report experience of violence, bullying, and sexual harassment

NUI Galway has launched its Speak Out online tool for students and staff to anonymously report violence and harassment.

The University platform is part of a national initiative being rolled out in higher education institutions this academic year to allow for increased recording and monitoring of incidents which will then be used to develop prevention, support and reporting.

Speak Out allows students and staff to record bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, discrimination, hate crime, coercive behaviour/control, stalking, assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.

NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “NUI Galway is delighted to support this important initiative, consistent with our own strategic value of respect and symbolic of our focus on ensuring we fulfil responsibilities for the public good.

“We are a respectful, open community, committed to welcoming and sustaining, in excellence, all the talents. All members of the University community have the right to study or work in an environment free from bullying, harassment and sexual harassment. Speak Out empowers our community in reporting such incidents. I encourage them to do so and to confront those elements of society that are unwelcome and unwelcoming and therefore in need of change.”

The Speak Out tool is available for students and staff at NUI Galway at

Developed for Ireland’s higher education sector, it is led by the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI), with the support of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Higher Education Authority.

The data collected through Speak Out will be used to inform policy and targeted educational initiatives. It is the goal of PCHEI to provide a trauma-informed tool which will provide users with support services relevant to their experience.

This project is a groundbreaking initiative underpinned by an ethos of cross-institutional collaboration in response to such incidences within higher education institutions.

Gemma MacNally, from the NUI Galway Student Counselling Service, said: “We are proud to make the Speak Out tool available to our University community of students and staff. It is an important part of our institutional Action Plan to ensure that sexual violence and harassment become more visible and openly discussed. The Speak Out tool provides a new option for people to have their voices heard. Meanwhile, we will continue to work on other parts of our Action Plan, such as education and training on positive behaviours, supports, and the mutual respect that must underpin the NUI Galway experience.”

The Government published the guiding document in 2019 for how colleges should respond to consent, sexual violence and harassment (‘Framework for Consent in Higher Education Institutions: Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive – Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions’) outlining the need to collect data on incidence rates of sexual harassment and violence across the sector.

Speak Out is one part of that strategy, along with official reports by students and staff and large scale surveys.

Speak Out also provides information on supports and reporting procedures available through the University, as well as information on specialist services in the community.

The 2020 Sexual Experiences Survey led by the NUI Galway Active* Consent team and the Union of Students in Ireland was carried out in 14 higher education institutions. It found that new options were needed to support people to disclose what happened to them.

In the national Sexual Experiences Survey, about one fifth (22.8%) of students who took part in the survey reported experiencing non-consensual penetration. They were asked whether they had told someone about what had happened to them - about one third of the women (35%) and almost half of the men (49%) who reported having had this experience said they had not disclosed the incident to anyone prior to completing the survey.

The Speak Out tool ensures that both students and staff will be able to make an anonymous report, helping to guide the University toward having better supports and procedures founded on direct experience.


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