Sexual assault and sexual harassment

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault occurs when a person is forced, coerced or tricked into sexual acts against their will or without their consent. The act is often perpetrated by someone known to the person and can leave them feeling threatened, uncomfortable or frightened. Sexual assault is a crime and is not the victim’s fault.

Consent must be given and it should be informed and free from intimidation. A person who is asleep or under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot give informed consent.

Examples of sexual assault:

  • Unwanted touching, hugging, fondling, or kissing
  • Being made to look at, or pose for, pornographic photos
  • Public exposure
  • Voyeurism (e.g. being watched doing intimate things without permission)
  • Incest
  • Rape

What is sexual harassment?

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.

Examples of sexual harassment:

  • Intrusive questions or statements about a person’s private life
  • Repeatedly asking a person for sex or dates
  • Offensive sexual comments or jokes
  • Sexually suggestive behaviour such as leering or staring.

If you experience sexual assault or sexual harassment

If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment, there are some steps you can take.

Seek urgent help if you are in immediate danger

If you or someone you know is hurt or in immediate danger, call for help:

Report the incident

You can report an incident to Victoria Police or to Swinburne’s Safer Community team at any time. You don’t have to make a formal report if you don’t want to. When reporting an incident, you will receive confidential advice on next steps to take and be referred on to relevant support services.

Victoria Police

Sexual Offence and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCIT)


Swinburne Safer Community


It’s helpful to have a trusted friend or family member act as your support person when making contact with the police or the university about the incident.

When making a report to Swinburne, you always have control over what actions are taken. We will respect your privacy and how you want to deal with the matter.

You can choose to report an incident to the university anonymously if you prefer. This will enable Swinburne to provide general advice and support services information.

Consider having a medical examination

  • You may be asked to undergo a forensic medical examination following an incident of sexual assault. It is your choice whether to proceed, however it’s important to consider that evidence will be lost over time if you delay the examination.
  • It is always recommended that survivors of sexual assault seek medical attention to screen for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and, if female, for pregnancy.

Seek advice and support

Incidents of sexual assault and harassment can be traumatic and leave you feeling uncomfortable. Your usual coping mechanisms may be affected by the trauma, so it’s good to seek support.

  • Consider telling a trusted friend or family member about the incident, who can then help you seek out support services.
  • Report the incident toSwinburne, e.g. teaching staff, Security, or Safer Community, who can link you in with other support services
  • Seek free and confidential support services both on campus and within the community.

Support on campus

Safer Community

You can access support and advice, request an intervention or report an incident on or off campus with Safer Community.

Report an incident to Safer Community.

Swinburne security services

Contact campus security services for emergencies on campus or for a security officer escort.

t: +61 3 9214 3333.

Student counselling

If you are struggling with a personal, emotional or mental health difficulty, whether related to your studies or your life away from university, counselling may help. Register and make an appointment with Swinburne’s counselling services.

t: +61 3 9214 8025

Crisis line – out of hours

The Swinburne crisis line is available to help you 24 hours a day on weekends and public holidays, and outside business hours on weekdays (before 9am and after 5pm). 

t: 1300 854 144
text: 0488 884 145

Independent advocacy service

Swinburne Student Life provides policy advice, support and guidance on academic issues, and advocates for best outcomes in complaints, grievances, appeals and misconduct hearings.

t: +61 3 9214 5445

Support off campus 

Sexual Offence and Child Abuse Investigations Team (SOCIT)

National emergency response and reporting.

t: 000

Eastern Domestic Violence Service (EDVOS)

Specialist family violence service in Melbourne’s eastern metropolitan region.

t: +61 3 9259 4200

Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line

Confidential crisis counselling outside business hours.

t: 1800 806 292

National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Service

24/7 phone and online counselling service for victims of family violence.

t: 1800 737 732

Men's Referral Service (No to Violence)

Advice and support for men concerned about their anger or violence towards their family.

t: 1300 766 491