Need emergency assistance?

If you or someone you know is hurt or in immediate danger: 

  • call the emergency services on 000
  • call Swinburne Security on +61 3 9214 3333 for 24-hour assistance including non-life-threatening incidences.
Report it to Safer Community (non-emergency support)

If you, or someone you know, is being affected by inappropriate, concerning or threatening behaviour, Safer Community wants to know. Report an incident online or email

What is discrimination?

Discrimination occurs when a person, or a group of people, is treated less favourably than another person or group because of their background or certain personal characteristics protected by law. Personal characteristics protected by law include race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, breastfeeding, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

 There are dedicated discrimination acts for disability, sex, race and age and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 protects people from several other types of discrimination.

What is harassment? 

Harassment is a form of discrimination; it includes behaviour that causes offence, based on a characteristic. This includes sexual harassment.

 Examples of harassment:

  • sending of explicit or sexually suggestive emails or text messages
  • making offensive comments or jokes about a person’s race
  • asking intrusive questions about a person’s private life
  • displaying racially offensive or pornographic posters or screen savers
  • making derogatory comments or taunts about a person’s disability.

What is vilification?

Vilification is behaviour that incites hatred, serious contempt for, or revulsion or severe ridicule of a person or group of people based on certain personal characteristics (e.g. race, religion, sexuality or gender identity).

 The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 makes it against the law in Victoria to vilify a person or group of people because of their race or religion.

 Examples of racial and religious vilification:

  • publishing claims that a racial or religious group is involved in serious crimes without any proof.
  • repeated and serious spoken or physical abuse about the race or religion of another person.
  • encouraging violence against people who belong to a particular race or religion.
  • encouraging people to hate a racial or religious group using flyers, posters or a website.

Discrimination, harassment and racial and religious vilification are unlawful in areas of public life in Victoria and are against university policies and procedures.

Vilification based on other characteristics (e.g. sexuality or gender identity), while not protected under a specific Victorian act, is against university policies and procedures and not tolerated at Swinburne.

Discrimination complaints key statistics (Australia)

Discrimination complaints received by the Australian Human Rights Commission by Act:

  • Disability Discrimination Act: 39 percent
  • Sex Discrimination Act: 24 percent
  • Racial discrimination Act: 21 percent
  • Age Discrimination Act: 8 percent
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act: 8 percent
(Australian Human Rights Commission, 2017)

What to do about discrimination, harassment or vilification

  • If you feel comfortable to do so, tell the person that their behaviour is inappropriate and unwelcomed.
  • Ask the person to stop the behaviour using a strong, assertive tone.
  • Ignore the behaviour – turn your back and walk away.
  • Block the person on social media and ask them to remove any offensive content.
  • Do not respond to messages.
  • Tell trusted people in your support network about the behaviour e.g. friends, family, neighbours, work mates, or peers/staff at university.
  • Talk about how it's affecting you.
  • Seek their advice on how to respond.
  • Seek help from professional support services listed on this page.
  • Keep a record of the behaviour you have experienced including date, time, place, names, witnesses, as well what you or others have done to try and stop the behaviour.    
  • Describe the behaviour that is upsetting you and the impact it has had (e.g. taking time off study).
  • Keep any evidence, for example copies of messages, photos, or online conversations.
  • Report online harassment and vilification to the social media site.
  • Report behaviour to Swinburne e.g. teaching or professional staff, security services, or Safer Community.
  • If you fear for your safety or feel threatened, report the behaviour to police by calling 000 for free.

Support services

We have a variety of support teams available for the Swinburne community to access:

Safer Community

Safer Community offers advice, support, intervention, and risk management for students who experience or witness concerning behaviours on or off campus. This might be due to stalking, bullying harassment, family violence, and sexual assault or harassment.

To report concerning behaviour email Safer Community via or alternatively you can report it online

Swinburne Security

Contact campus security on +61 3 9214 3333 for emergencies on campus or for a security officer escort.

Student counselling

If you’re 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 or call +61 3 9214 8025.

Crisis line – after hours

The Swinburne crisis line is available to help 24 hours a day on weekends and public holidays and outside business hours on weekdays (before 9.00am and after 5.00pm) by calling 1300 854 144 or texting 0488 884 145.

Independent advocacy service

Swinburne Student Life provides policy advice, support and guidance in academic issues, and advocates for best outcomes in complaints, grievances, appeals and misconduct hearings as part of our independent advocacy service.


Advise students with a disability on what reasonable adjustments can be made to ensure equal opportunity to access and participate in their education at Swinburne.


National emergency response and reporting. In emergencies, please call 000. Visit for more information.


For 24/7 phone crisis support call 13 11 14 or visit for more information.

Australian Human Rights Commission

Australian Human Rights Commission investigates and resolves complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying based on a person’s sex, disability, race, age and sexuality. Please call 1300 656 419.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Free service for dispute resolution and information around issues of equal opportunity, racial and religious vilification and the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. Please call 1300 292 153 or visit for more information.


eheadspace is a confidential, free and secure space to chat to qualified youth mental health professionals.


Esafety offers advice, strategies and support for cyberbullying, as well as online reporting. Please call 1800 880 176.

Report it to Safer Community

If you, or someone you know, is being affected by discrimination, harassment or vilification, Safer Community wants to know. Report an incident online or email

Report Online