Matters we provide support for | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Matters we provide support for

Some of the concerns students seek support for include:

  • Support to manage conflict with another student or staff member
  • Safety and support plans on campus
  • Feeling unsafe at home
  • Concerns about treatment received from another person, including students, staff, and placement staff
  • Knowing how to help a friend
  • Making a report about harmful behaviour

Other matters that we support students with include:


Detailed below are examples of behaviours, whether intentional or unintentional, that may be regarded as bullying if they are repeated, unreasonable and create a risk to health and safety. Bullying can be carried out in a variety of ways including through email and text messaging or social media channels; directly or indirectly. This is not an exhaustive list – however, it does outline some of the more common types of bullying behaviours. Examples include:

  • abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments
  • unjustified criticism or complaints
  • deliberately excluding someone from study-related activities
  • withholding or denying access to information that is vital for effective work or study performance
  • spreading misinformation or malicious rumours

Download the Bullying fact sheet (PDF 337KB)

Harassment and Stalking

Harassment is any form of behaviour that is unwelcome, unsolicited, unreciprocated and usually (but not always) repeated. It is behaviour that is likely to offend, humiliate or intimidate. Harassment can be based on any of the attributes listed under the definition of discrimination. Examples can include sexual, disability, racial, sexuality or gender-based harassment.

Stalking is when someone continues to act in a way that repeatedly that causes another person harm or to fear for their safety. Stalking behaviour can include:

  • following, watching
  • repeatedly contacting them either online, via text, email or phone calls
  • acting offensively towards them, their family or friends
  • posting things about them on the internet
  • hanging around outside their home or work
  • seeking information about them, or monitoring their behaviours via internet, family or friends


  • 1 in 10 Australian adults experience stalking
  • 75% of targets are female and 80% of stalkers are male
  • 66% of targets know their stalker

If you are concerned about stalking, it is important to tell someone about it and seek help as soon as possible for SafeUSC to assist you.

Download the Stalking fact sheet (361KB)


Discrimination as defined in the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld), means to treat an individual less favourably because of an attribute listed in the Act, or to impose unreasonable terms or conditions for which individuals with a particular attribute are unable to comply. Attributes include:

  • parental status
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • religious belief or activity
  • political belief or activity
  • relationship status
  • sex
  • lawful sexual activity
  • gender identity
  • sexuality
  • age
  • race, nationality or ethnic origin
  • disability or impairment
  • trade union activity
  • family responsibilities
  • association with, or relation to, a person identified on the basis of any of the above attributes
Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment means any unsolicited, unwelcome and unreciprocated behaviour, act or conduct of a sexual nature that offends, humiliates or intimidates other persons. It can be a single incident or a persistent pattern and can range from subtle behaviour to explicit demands for sexual activity or criminal assault. Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following examples:

  • inappropriate jokes or comments with sexual connotations
  • the display of offensive material
  • stares and leers or offensive hand or body gestures
  • comments and questions about another person’s sexual conduct and/or private relationships
  • persistent unwelcome invitations
  • requests for sexual favours
  • offensive written, telephone or email communication, or any other electronic means of communication
  • unnecessary close physical proximity including persistently following a person
  • unwelcome physical contact such as brushing against or touching a person
  • denigrating comments regarding a person’s gender or sexual preference
  • negative behaviours, e.g. intimidation or exclusions related to the sex of the recipient

Please see the Support for students impacted by sexual assault and/or sexual harassment page for more information. You can also make an appointment on 07 5456 3864 or through the Student Hub to talk to a Safer Communities Adviser.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is ANY unwanted or forced sexual act or behaviour without your informed consent. Consent means that you freely and willingly agreed to have sex, or participate in a sexual act – you are comfortable and free from intimidation or pressure. Consent is also continuous, so you can change your mind at any time.

Lack of informed consent occurs when you are incapable of giving it due reasons such as:

  • the influence of drugs or alcohol, drink spiking or just enjoying one too many drinks,
  • being under the age of consent, or being related to the other person,
  • feeling intimidated or fearful,
  • having been rendered unconscious due to a violent act towards them,
  • are experiencing fear paralysis due to the shock of the assault,
  • being outnumbered by the number of perpetrators, or
  • experiencing a health or medical condition which does not allow the person to understand the sexual behaviour being exhibited towards them.

Silence does not mean consent. If a person does not protest, physically resist, or suffer injuries, this does not mean they freely agreed to sexual activity.

Sexual assault is never your fault. If you believe this has happened to you, it doesn't matter when it happened, whether it occurred on campus, at a University event, during a placement, or in your personal life away from the University - support is always available.

Please see the Support for students impacted by sexual assault and/or sexual harassment page for more information. You can also make an appointment on 07 5456 3864 or through the Student Hub to talk to a Safer Communities Adviser.

Cyberbullying, sexting and social media misuse

Cyber bullying is intentional and repeated cruel or hurtful behaviour that is carried out using technology. Cyber bullying is a crime if it involves using a mobile phone or the internet to:

  • make threats: this can include trying to intentionally frighten, intimidate or annoy someone by threatening to hurt them; it is also illegal to threaten to enter or damage a property,
  • stalk someone: stalking is when someone gets repeated attention that frightens or intimidates them, or
  • menace, harass or seriously offend someone: this can include sending offensive messages or making posts that make someone feel extremely angry, outraged, humiliated or disgusted.

Sexting refers to behaviours of a sexual nature that are shared or recorded using technology. Common sexting behaviours include:

  • taking naked or partially naked photos or videos of yourself (posing in a sexual way) and sending the photos via the internet or mobile phones, or
  • receiving or forwarding naked or partially naked photos or videos through mobile phones, internet and social networking sites such as Facebook or Instagram.

Sexting can include images from film, movies, videos, photos, and digital images sent by SMS, email, chat rooms and publishing on blogs.

For more information, see Qld Legal Aid info pages: cyber bullying, sexting and Facebook guide and Sexting and sharing photos page.

Persistent and unreasonable complaining

Persistent and unreasonable complaining relates to the nature of how a person is making a complaint, not the details or the nature of the complaint itself. As such persistent and unreasonable complaining can occur when:

  • the complainant uses aggressive, threatening or intimidating behaviour, including excessive offensive language to communicate the complaint,
  • the complainant makes unreasonable demands about the way the complaint should be handled, or is obsessive or insistent on an outcome e.g. firing of staff, expediting process,
  • a person complains about the same issue over and over again, despite a finding or previous ruling, or
  • the complaint is unjustified or vexatious.
Welfare concerns such as homelessness, missing persons

If you are concerned about the welfare of a student, you can contact Student Wellbeing or SafeUSC who can organise a welfare check. Although we can't provide you with the outcome of this check, should there be additional concerns we can organise follow up and support to the student.

If you are concerned that someone is a missing person, you can contact the Qld Police Missing Person Unit.

USC has a range of welfare supports for students. The Student Guild provides welfare support including emergency food bank, community kitchen, tenancy advise, financial counselling and legal advice.

Mental health concerns

About a half of all Australians will experience some form of mental health problems at some time in life. Mental illness includes common conditions such as anxiety and depressive disorders, and less common conditions such as psychotic illness (e.g. Schizophrenia). Each condition has a different set of symptoms, but some examples can include:

  • excessive worry or fears,
  • persistent sad or low mood,
  • unusual or illogical thoughts,
  • unreasonable anger or irritability,
  • poor concentration,
  • hearing voices which no one else can perceive,
  • increased or decreased sleep,
  • increased or low appetite,
  • lack of motivation,
  • withdrawing from people,
  • drug use,
  • feelings that life is not worth living, or
  • suicidal thoughts.

If you are concerned about your mental health or the mental health of a student or family member then there are a range of services that can support you and the person you are concerned about.

Student Wellbeing offers free confidential counselling and support to USC students during business hours.

Suicide call back services offers 24 hour support to those impacted by suicide, or those feeling suicidal.

Sane Australia offers support line and information on mental illness, as well as support to families.

Heath Direct provides free health advice. Worried about your health? Use Health Direct's Symptom Checker. Select a symptom, answer some questions, get advice. Start your symptom check.

Threats of harm

Threats of harm can be a criminal offence. If you are aware of threats of harm to another person, or are being threatened, then you can tell these threats to police. In an emergency, call 000.

If you are being threatened on campus, then you can call SafeUSC for immediate support on 5430 1168 or via the SafeZone App.

At SafeUSC, we can support you to develop safety plan and also assist you to communicate concerns with police. Please contact us for support.

Legal Aid Queensland has further information for managing threats of harm, including domestic violence orders, and peace and good behaviour orders.

Domestic and Family violence

If you are concerned about your safety on campus due to domestic violence, or would like some assistance or support please contact us or 24 hour Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 811 811.

Domestic violence occurs when someone in an intimate relationship uses fear to control their partner on an ongoing basis. Domestic violence is about the abuse of power by one person over another in that relationship. Domestic violence is gendered in nature, in that it is mainly perpetrated against women and their children by men.

DV Connect outlines a wide range of abusive behaviours that can be adopted by perpetrators of domestic violence, and include, but are not limited to:

Physical abuse. This type of abuse can be direct assaults on the body - punching, pushing, causing or threatening personal injury using objects or weapons; assaults on children; being denied access to your home; and/or deprivation of sleep or food.

Psychological abuse. Behaviour and/or comments and taunts of this nature that undermine a sense of self, personal security or which are likely to impose a sense of vulnerability around personal safety or mental health and wellbeing. Examples of psychological abuse can include driving dangerously, threatening or causing injury to pets, making threats about custody of children or asserting that the no one including the courts would believe your story.

Verbal abuse. This abuse includes constant verbal put-downs, ridicule, name calling, humiliation in public or in private, focus of insults around sexuality, body image, intelligence or parenting skills.

Social abuse. This form of abuse occurs when someone systematically controls who you see, who you speak to or receive phone calls, messages or email from, and/or where you go; they even control where you live so that you become socially or geographically isolated from other people.

Financial abuse. This abuse involves refusing you access to money or providing an inadequate allowance; especially where the money is legally due to you whether via welfare entitlements or your own wages or preventing you from seeking or holding down a job.

Damage to personal property. This type of abuse is when a person uses physical strength or violence to intimidate you by causing or threatening to cause damage to your property or valuables, e.g. kicking walls, throwing things, pulling a door off hinges or damaging your furniture, car or personal belongings.

Spiritual / Cultural abuse. This abuse involves not allowing you to practise your chosen religion or cultural beliefs, or misusing religious or spiritual traditions to justify physical or other abuse towards you.

Stalking. Constantly worrying or frightening you by following you, watching you, phoning or messaging you and waiting outside your home or workplace. (See Harassment and Stalking section for more information.)

Sexual abuse. Abuse of this nature is ANY forced or unwanted sexual contact or activity. For more detailed information about sexual abuse, see our Sexual assault and harassment section above.

Substance misuse

Substance misuse is a common issue effecting our community. If you are concerned about substance misuse such as alcohol dependence or drug misuse, then you can seek support through:

Additionally, if you are concerned about the impacts of a student's substance misuse on others, and you can let us know through the online form, or by giving us a call.

Unreasonable behaviour

Unreasonable behaviour means behaviour that a reasonable person, having considered the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.


Victimisation means treating someone unfairly because they have made, or intend to make, a bullying, discrimination or harassment complaint. This also includes those who have supported another person in making a complaint. Victimisation of any person involved in a complaint is unacceptable.

General safety concerns

If you have concerns about your safety or someone else's safety on or off campus, we are here to support you. We can assist with safety planning and referrals for support.

You can also find more information about personal safety on our Safety and Security page.