Preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment
Swinburne commits to preventing all forms of violence, harm and disrespect and providing a safe, respectful and inclusive environment to all students, staff and visitors.
At Swinburne, we treat all kinds of reported concerns seriously and sensitively. We are committed to preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment through addressing underlying cultural norms and providing education on how YOU can make a difference. During 2021, Swinburne strengthened its safety and support initiatives with a focus on respectful relationships, gender equality, healthy masculinity and LGBTIQ+ inclusion to help prevent violence, harm and disrespect.
Sexual assault occurs when a person is forced, coerced or tricked into sexual acts against their will or without their consent. The term can refer to a broad range of sexual behaviours that make a victim/survivor feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened. Sexual assault is a crime and includes rape, sexual touching and child sexual abuse.
Sexual harassment is when a person makes an unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favours to another person, and/or engages in any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to another person, including through digital or online means, that is offensive, humiliating or intimidating.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment are crimes and are not the victim/survivor's fault.
Access help and support
No matter where it happened, support is always available if you, or someone you know, has been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed. There is a range of options and resources available to you.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment information for students
Find out how to access support services and report sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment information for staff
Find resources for staff about sexual assault and sexual harassment (login required.)
Australian data indicates that sexual assault and sexual harassment are underreported. Swinburne's commitment to gather accurate information which will help us make informed changes to keep our people safe.
The following tables include data on the number of formal reports, including anonymous reports, made to the university.
Reports of sexual assault
Reports of sexual harrassment
The above aligns with the Australian Human Rights Commission's classification for incidences that occur within university settings.
On-campus: On the university campus grounds, public transport while travelling to or from university, Swinburne managed residences, at an off-campus event organised by or endorsed by the university, at university related employment, technology-based harassment where some or all of the perpetrators were students, teachers or other people associated with the university.
Off-campus: Within the broader community including a student's private residence.
Respect. Now. Always. Initiative
Swinburne is part of a national initiative, Respect. Now. Always, together with other Australian universities, to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment. It also aims to empower victim-survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault to seek help and support.
This is an opportunity for universities to review policies, reporting procedures and support services. We will be able to keep learning from best practice and make improvements.
Swinburne participated in Australia's first national university student survey on sexual assault and sexual harassment run by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The results, released on Tuesday 1 August 2017, helped to understand the prevalence of these incidents in Australian universities. The findings are outlined in the commission’s report, ‘Change the course: National report on sexual assault and sexual harassment at Australian universities’.
Swinburne has committed to adopt all of the report's recommendations and continues to strengthen student safety and support initiatives. Swinburne also participated in the sector-wide National Student Safety Survey conducted from 6 September to 3 October 2021.
National Student Safety Survey 2021
We understand that conversations about the National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) and its results can be distressing for members of our university and wider community. The NSSS report contains discussion and descriptions of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It also contains mentions of self-harm, drug use and suicide ideation. If you would like to speak to somebody for support, a range of confidential resources are available to you.
Australian universities commissioned and funded the National Student Safety Survey (the NSSS) to collect data on the prevalence and nature of university student experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment in 2021. This survey builds on a foundational survey undertaken in 2016 and will provide a national picture of accurate information to universities about what is happening in our student communities.
More detail on survey results specific to Swinburne can be found here. A total of 43,819 students participated in the survey across Australia, and of those 1,054 Swinburne students responded to the survey. Swinburne thanks all students who chose to participate in the NSSS. Their contributions help us make positive change.
Swinburne will act on these results, engage with our community and determine the best way forward. We will immediately ensure that our students are aware of the support that is available to them, should they need it, and continue to provide education and prevention initiatives to ensure our students feel safe and that any form of sexual assault or sexual harassment is unacceptable.
In addressing recommendations four and nine of the AHRC report, Swinburne commissioned an independent, expert-led review of existing university policies and response pathways in relation to sexual assault and sexual harassment.
The review noted many instances of good practice and also highlights areas for improvement.
The full independent report was release in September 2018 and an update on our progress to 1 August 2019 is available for download.
Safety and security on campus
Report an incident
If you encounter inappropriate, concerning or threatening behaviour, you can report the incident online to Safer Community. Reports can be made anonymously.
Your safety at Swinburne
We’ve worked hard to create a safe, accepting and vibrant community to ensure Swinburne remains a place where everyone can feel confident and respected – and we aim to keep it that way.
Health and wellbeing
We offer comprehensive professional health and medical services to support the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of the Swinburne community.