Help for sexual assault or sexual harassment
Swinburne commits to providing a safe, respectful and inclusive environment for all students. We take a zero-tolerance stance against sexual assault and sexual harassment, and treat reports or concerns seriously and sensitively.
If you or someone you know is hurt or in immediate danger, call for help.
What is sexual assault or sexual harassment?
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
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.
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.
If you experience sexual assault or sexual harassment
If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment, there are some steps you can take.
You decide if you want support, to report the incident, or both.
Use this webpage and the flyer below to help navigate and understand the options available to you. We are here to help you – no matter what happened, or when it happened.
Download the PDF flyer here.
Incidents of sexual assault and harassment can be traumatic and leave you feeling uncomfortable. Your usual coping mechanisms may be affected, so it’s good to seek support.
You can choose to receive support or to report an incident at any time.
- Consider telling a trusted friend or family member about the incident, who can then help you seek out support services.
- Report the incident to Safer Community or a Swinburne staff member 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 can help you access support and advice, request an intervention or report an incident on or off-campus. We can support you to manage the impacts on your study or coursework.
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.
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
txt: 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.
Other support off-campus
Sexual Offence and Child Abuse Investigations Team (SOCIT)
National emergency response and reporting.
Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (ECASA)
Free counselling and support service for people who have experienced sexual assault either recently or in the past.
t: 9870 7330
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
We encourage you to report a sexual assault or sexual harassment concern to the Safer Community team so that we can offer help, support and advice. You can choose to make a report or request support at any time.
You can also email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and advice.
Provide as much information as you feel comfortable. The more information you provide (i.e. who, what, where and when), the more fully Safer Community can help you to make a report or access the support you need.
If you prefer, you can report a sexual assault anonymously to SARA (Sexual Assault Report Anonymously) – a service provided by the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault.
You can also report sexual assault or harassment at any police station. If you make your initial report by phone, you will also need to meet with the police at a time that's convenient for you. If you personally attend a police station to report sexual assault, you can discuss it in a private interview room, the police can refer you to crisis services and counselling.
Sexual Offence and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCIT)
You can report an incident to Swinburne’s Safer Community team or to Victoria Police 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.
What happens if I report sexual assault or harassment to Safer Community?
Safer Community will work with you to identify the specific support you need. This may include counseling, health services and support with academic matters such as applying for special consideration. We can also connect you with additional services such as housing and legal assistance.
When you report sexual assault or harassment we will outline your rights and the options available to you, including reporting to the police. We will respect your privacy and how you want to deal with the matter. If we believe there is a risk to the broader community, we may need to use the specific information you provide to protect others. At all times, we will inform you how we use the information you provide.
Can I make a complaint?
Yes. You can make a complaint about sexual assault or harassment at any time.
What happens when I make a complaint?
We'll investigate the matter. Swinburne can’t make decisions about whether a crime has occurred but we can investigate whether university rules have been breached. We must ensure the investigation doesn't jeopardise any criminal investigation.
The person investigating the matter will probably need to talk to you. You can have a support person with you.
Swinburne can impose penalties under the Student General Misconduct Regulations (for students) and staff disciplinary processes (for staff).
Do I have to make a complaint?
No. You aren't required to make a formal complaint
What can Swinburne do if I don’t make a formal complaint?
We can talk to you about your options and provide you with support, counselling and refer you to services that can also help you.
Will Swinburne report a complaint to the police?
If you're 18 or over, the university can't report the matter to police on your behalf. If you decide to report the incident to the police, we can support you. The police have specialist staff who are trained to deal with reported sexual offences.
If you're under 18 years of age, Swinburne must report sexual offences and misconduct to the police.
If someone tells you they have been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed, there are certain things you can do to help.
- Make sure they feel safe and believed
Do your best to make the person feel safe and supported.
- Listen, don’t judge
If someone shares their difficult story with you, listen and respond sensitively. It’s important not to ask too many questions or make them feel judged. Sexual assault is not the fault of the victim/survivor.
- Inform them and encourage them to seek support
Encourage them to seek support if they choose and help them to find the support services available to them and how they can make a formal report.
- Acknowledge your own feelings and seek support if you need
If you are worried or unsure what to do, speak to a trained professional.
The following guides have been created to help you help a victim/survivor understand their options.
Handling disclosures: helping a student victim/survivor of sexual assault or harassment (process flowchart aimed at staff members)
Download the flyer in PDF
Sexual assault and sexual harassment response guidelines. Further information for staff members can be accessed via the intranet (login required)
Download the guidelines in PDF