Sexual assault and harassment information

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Sexual assault and harassment information


What is sexual assault and sexual harassment?

Sexual assault occurs in many forms. It is ANY unwanted or forced sexual act or behaviour without your informed consent. Sexual assault includes unsolicited attention, harassment or suggestions of a sexual nature.

Lack of informed consent occurs when the person being victimised is considered incapable of giving that consent due to:

  • The influence of drugs or alcohol—drink spiking or just enjoying one too many drinks.
  • Having been rendered unconscious due to a violent act towards them.
  • Is suffering fear paralysis due to the shock of the assault.
  • Being too fearful to resist the assault for fear of further harm or being killed or is fearful of future harassment or derogatory remarks being made to family, colleagues or being placed on Facebook or other social media.
  • Being outnumbered by the number of perpetrators.
  • Suffering from a health or medical condition which which does not allow the person to understand the sexual behaviour being exhibited towards them.

Sexual assault is not the same as sexual expression. Sexual assault is unwanted sexual behaviour or acts that use intimidation, coercion or force to exercise power or deny someone's right to choose. Sexual assault and abuse can be one-off events, or part of a pattern of violence. It has a range of effects, including physical, emotional and psychological effects. View the Queensland laws around sex and sexual offences.

The USC Student Charter outlines the mutual expectations between the University and the student body.

USC Anti-Discrimination and Freedom from Harassment—Governing Policy clearly defines sexual harassment as any unsolicited, unwelcome and unreciprocated behaviour, act or conduct of a sexual nature that embarrasses, humiliates or offends 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 even criminal assault and including but 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 electronic mail or other computer system communications
  • 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, for example, intimidation or exclusions related to the sex of the recipient.

Finding help and support if you have experienced sexual assault

USC is here to help. Student Wellbeing can support you in by providing confidential advice, or counselling and support around deciding the best course of action to take and recommending appropriate support and referral options.

If you have just experienced a sexual assault or are in immediate danger:

  • Get to a safe place.
  • Phone Triple Zero (000) or if on USC campus grounds, call Security 5430 1122.
Support services
  • Statewide Sexual Assault Helpline 1800 010 120.
  • 1800RESPECT 1800 737 732 provides 24 hour sexual assault and domestic violence support.
  • Laurel House, Sunshine Cooloola Services Against Sexual Violence, provide counselling, support, advocacy, information, advice and referral to women aged 15 years and over who have been sexually assaulted during their lives. Contact: (07) 5443 4711.
  • Hervey Bay Wide Bay Sexual Assault Services provide counselling, support, advocacy, information, advice and referral to women aged 15 years and over who have been sexually assaulted during their lives. Contact: (07) 4194 5230.

If you’re still struggling with consent, just imagine, instead of initiating sex, you’re making them a cup of tea.

Copyright 2015 Emmeline May ( and Blue Seat Studios Used with permission by Queensland Sexual Assault Network.

How can I get involved in prevention?

Want to get involved in USC or other initiatives to address sexual violence. Here are some campaigns you make interested in:

Helpful resources

Respect Now Always

What if I want to make a report about sexual assault or harassment?

There is no greater priority than the safety and security of our students, staff and community. If you have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed, we encourage you to report it to the university and the police.

If you think a criminal sexual offence has been committed, you can make a criminal complaint. You may wish to seek further advice before reporting, and can do this by contacting the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service (1800RESPECT) phone 1800 737 732 (24 hrs), the police, your doctor or a private lawyer. Time may be a factor and these services can provide information on rights and options. View more information about reporting to police.

USC takes all reports on sexual assault seriously. You are encouraged to report any misconduct on campus:

  • If you or another student are in immediate danger police on 000. Campus security are available on: 5430 1122 24/7 for on-the-spot help or to report any incident or behaviour. They will also follow up with police and emergency services if necessary.
    Available 24/7 for on-the-spot help or to report any incident or behaviour, we will also follow up with police and emergency services if necessary. However if your situation is immediately life-threatening or urgent, always call 000 first.
  • Call Student Wellbeing on: 5430 1226 or contact Safer Community team on We can provide assistance, advice and referrals to other services if appropriate, and ensure that you get all the support you need and discuss formal and informal complaint options.
  • Call the Counselling Service on: 5430 1226
    We offer free and confidential counselling and psychological services. Please call to make an appointment book or through the Student Hub.
  • For after hours support: Domestic Violence Hotline Queensland 1800 811 811.

The University will implement reasonably available interim measures to protect you and facilitate your continued access to University educational programs and activities. Following reporting the incident you are provided with support, counselling and any academic adjustments you may need. We can also refer you to any other services you may require such as medical, housing or legal services.

How long will the reporting process take?

After you have made a report, we are able to provide support and adjustments immediately and for as long as the matter is impacting you.
Once you decide to report the matter the Student Wellbeing staff will assist you in documenting your complaint and have someone available between 9am and 5pm Monday and Fridays.

Potential outcomes from a complaint
If the accused is a student and they are found to have engaged in misconduct, the University can:
  • issue a formal written caution
  • issue a formal written reprimand
  • suspend the student’s enrolment for no longer than a semester or equivalent period
  • suspend the student from University premises or facilities, or a specified part or parts of University premises for no longer than a semester or equivalent period
  • recommend to the University Council that the student be expelled from the University (delegated by Council to the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor)
  • recommend to the University Council to rescind the conferral of an award.
When is the University required to make a mandatory report to the police or undertake an investigation?

Only in exceptional circumstances does the University report an alleged crime without your prior consent, for example, when a disclosure is against a staff member, or if the information is necessary to protect you (or others) from harm or to prevent a further crime taking place. All information associated with investigations and outcomes associated with allegations of sexual harassment/misconduct are treated as confidential and not released to any third party or external agency unless required by law or your expressly consents to its release in writing.

USC Policy Framework

USC fosters a culture of safety and respect for all students and staff. The sexual harassment and prevention Governing policy outlines the Universities policy and procedures relating to matters of sexual harassment.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are seeking advice or support about managing or reporting unwanted and unacceptable behaviors, USC Student Wellbeing can help by providing confidential counselling support around deciding the best course of action to take and recommending appropriate support and referral options.

You can also use the service if you have welfare concerns, including:

  • behaviour that is negatively impacting an individual or group
  • mental health concerns
  • any other concerns related to behaviour or wellbeing where advice or support is required.

You can make an appointment with Student Wellbeing on 5430 1226 or through the Student Hub. We are open business hours. If you require urgent assistance, or need support out of business hours please contact:

Supporting someone who has experienced sexual assault

If you have a friend or family member that has experienced sexual assault it can be difficult to know how best to provide support. Don't be afraid to offer help and referral information and 1800RESPECT has some helpful tips and information on what you can do.

Prevalence of sexual assault in Australia
  • 1 in 5 women in Australia will experience sexual assault at some time in their life.
  • 70% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.
  • Less than 1 in 5 of those who experience sexual assault will report the crime to the police.

(Sourced: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Personal Safety Survey. 2005; NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics; NSW Rape Crisis Centre)

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