Respect. Now. Always.

Together with other Australian universities, Swinburne is part of the national initiative, Respect. Now. Always. The goal is to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment and empower victim-survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault to seek help and support.  

This is what we’re doing for Respect. Now. Always.

National Student Safety Survey 2021

Content warning

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.

Learn more about the National Student Safety Survey

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. 

Summary of 2021 survey results

Of the 1,054 Swinburne students who participated in the survey:


have experienced sexual harassment since starting university


have experienced sexual assault since starting university


of students who were sexually harassed sought support or assistance

43.9% to 47.8%

of students know nothing or very little about where to seek support or assistance for sexual harassment or assault

Download the results summary infographic [PDF 316KB]

1,054 students participated in the survey

Prevalence in a university context

Sexual harassment

  • 12.9% since starting university
  • 3.7% in the past 12 months
Experience of sexual harassment in the past 12 months:
  • Female 4.0%
  • Male 2.5% *
  • Differently-described gender 10.1% *

Sexual assault

  • 3.3% since starting university
  • ** in the past 12 months
Experiences of sexual assault in the past 12 months:
  • Female **
  • Male **
  • Differently-described gender **

Context of most impactful incident

Sexual harassment

Asked of students who experienced sexual harassment in an Australian university context.

  • General campus areas 47.3%
  • University lecture theatres, computer labs 23.6%
  • Clubs and societies, events and spaces 16.1%
  • 61.1% knew some or all of the perpetrators involved

Reporting and support seeking

Asked of students who experienced sexual harassment in an Australian university context.

Formal complaints made to the university: 
  • ** of students who were sexually harassed made a formal complaint
Seeking support from the university: 
  • 19.2% of students who were sexually harassed sought support or assistance

Knowledge of university support and reporting channels: 

Asked of all students.

  • 52.3% know nothing or very little about where to go to make a complaint about sexual harassment
  • 47.8% know nothing or very little about where to seek support or  assistance for harassment
  • 54.5% know nothing or very little about where to go to make a complaint about sexual assault
  • 43.9% know nothing or very little about where to seek support or assistance for assault

Relative standard errors (RSE) were calculated for survey estimates. If the RSE was between 25% and 50% an * appears next to the estimate that indicates caution should be used with the associated estimate. If the RSE was above 50% an ** appears meaning the estimate is unreliable and not reportable. Differently described gender includes students whose gender identity was not classified as female or male. Gender identity was derived using the 'two-step method' of cross-classifying responses to sex assigned at birth and current gender. Context of most impactful incident. Students who had been sexually harassed in a university context were asked questions about the context of the most impactful (or significant) incident they had experienced. This incident was self-identified by the student.

Staying Safe

Staying Safe is a program available on the Swinburne App. It provides direct access for emergency services, Swinburne security and the Swinburne crisis line, as well as links to report problem behaviour, responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment, plus information on Safer Community, security services and counselling services.

Consent Matters 

Consent Matters is an interactive and evidence-based online module designed to reflect the Swinburne student experience and provides additional resources to build on the understanding of respect and consent.

This innovative course explores the nature of sexual consent, and shows students how to seek consent, how to recognise it and how to identify situations where it can’t be given. It also explores communication and relationships, and bystander intervention. This module is compulsory for certain groups of Swinburne students, with all students strongly encouraged to complete the Consent Matters course which is available on Canvas. 

Staff training

Universities Australia (UA) in conjunction with the Australian Psychological Society (APS) has developed the ‘Sexual harassment and sexual assault: What are the drivers and how can staff respond?’ module as part of the Respect. Now. Always. initiative. All Swinburne staff are strongly recommended to complete this staff training module via Swinburne’s online learning management system for staff.

Unlearn It

Unlearn It is a new social change campaign launched by Swinburne. Available to all students, the campaign harnesses the power of the student voice, focusing on challenging learnt attitudes and unconscious lessons in society, covering topics such as gender based sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Respectful research training

At Swinburne, we’re committed to fostering a respectful and well-defined research training culture. Therefore, we use respectful research training resources developed by the Australian Council of Graduate Research to educate our PhD candidates and supervisors on how to maintain a safe and respectful research environment.

Supporting you

The information of the survey that has been shared can be distressing and potentially retraumatising for members of our university and wider community. Free and confidential support services are available at Swinburne and across Australia for people who would like to seek assistance. They are:

Swinburne’s support services

National referral services

The initiatives are also part of Swinburne’s commitment to the prevention of all forms of violence, harm and disrespect, and focus on respectful relationships, gender equality, healthy masculinity and LGBTIQ+ inclusion. Together, we can ensure Swinburne is a safe environment for all. 

Got a question?

If you're curious to know more about any of our programs or training that we offer, please don't hesitate to send us an email. Get in touch with the team at

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