A new sexual assault prevention program that launched Thursday at the University of Calgary hopes to shift the focus from "victim blaming" to a deeper understanding of consent.

Creating a Culture of Consent is a partnership between the university's Women's Resource Centre and the Consent Awareness and Sexual Education Club. 

Organizers say for too long the focus has been on the victim.

"So many of the sexual assault prevention strategies that we had grown up with … were quite victim blaming," said program co-founder Emily Leedham.

Emily Leedham

Emily Leedham is a co-founder of a new sexual assault prevention program launched Thursday at the U of C. (CBC)

"It's like you always had to be on the lookout and we just found that really unacceptable, we wanted a change."

The program zeroes in on consent, respect and communication, Leedham said.

Nanako Furuyama of the women's centre says under reporting adds to the challenges of preventing sexual assault.

Nanako Furuyama

Nanako Furuyama hopes a new prevention program at the U of C creates a sense of respect and consent on campus. (CBC)

"Less than one in 10 assaults are reported in Canada according to Statistics Canada," she said.

The program will include workshops, speaker events and improving existing peer support services.

"In three years from now we are hoping to see there is no longer blaming the victims of any sexual assault cases and create a sense of respect and ... consent on campus," Furuyama said.