Sexual assault & harassment

If you have experienced sexual violence or harassment, La Trobe’s Safer Community service can help.

Safer Community

Disclosure and reporting of sexual harm

If you or another student has experienced sexual harm you can disclose or report to Safer Community. Safer Community will listen, believe, and support you, discuss options for your support and safety, and assist you in determining a course of action which is right for you.

It is important to note the difference between disclosing and reporting an experience:

1. Disclosing the incident is where an individual confides in someone else that they have been the victim of sexual harm, in order to receive resources and support;

2. Formally reporting is where a student or staff member provides a formal account or statement about the sexual harm to the University. As a result, an internal investigation may commence, determining if the conduct constitutes a breach of any relevant instruments, including the General Misconduct Statute 2009 (students).

If an individual chooses to either disclose or formally report any incident of sexual harm to Safer Community, the University may have to investigate the incident to comply with its legal obligations. An example of this is if the University believes that there is serious risk to others, and the University needs to take appropriate action to ensure the safety of the community is upheld. If this happens, you have the right to choose whether or not you wish to participate in the investigation, you will be kept informed about what is happening, and we will support you throughout the process.

Defining sexual harm

Sexual harm is defined by the University as any behaviour of a sexual nature

This includes:

  • sexual assault
  • rape
  • sexual harassment
  • other sexual behaviours that:
  1. make someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated, threatened or coerced
  2. a person has not agreed to participate in, either in person or via online
  3. a person has not clearly indicated ‘affirmative consent’ or is not capable of consenting.

Sexual harm is when a person is coerced or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity like:

  • touching
  • sexual harassment and intimidation
  • forced marriage
  • trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation
  • sexual abuse
  • sexual assault and rape.

Use the dropdown below for more important definitions related to sexual harm.

Sexual harassment is a specific and serious form of harassment. It is unwelcome sexual behaviour, which could be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can be physical, spoken or written.

Just because someone does not object to inappropriate behaviour at the time, it does not mean that they are consenting to the behaviour.

There are specific sexual harassment provisions for educational institutions in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Section 28F.

Examples may include, but are not limited to:

  • Comments about a person’s private life or the way they look
  • Sexually suggestive behaviour, such as leering or staring
  • Brushing up against someone, touching, fondling or hugging
  • Sexually suggestive comments or jokes
  • Repeated unwanted requests to go out or requests for sex
  • Sexually explicit posts on social networking sites, emails or text messages.

Sexual assault occurs when a person is forced, coerced or tricked into sexual acts against their will or without their consent. Also if a child or young person under the age of 18 is exposed to sexual activities.

Sexual assault is a crime and is no fault of the victim’s.

Statistics in Australia are as follows:

  • 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men are sexually assaulted in their life
  • 90% of sexual assaults occur without injury
  • 70% of perpetrators are known e.g. family, friend, or colleague
  • 60% of sexual assaults occur in the home, car or workplace of either person
  • 17% of sexual assaults are reported to Police
  • 2% of sexual assault reports are fake

Consent, or the lack of it is an important part of legal and social definitions of sexual assault. The legal definition of consent is ‘free agreement’. We hold the standard of ‘affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.’

Watch the video to learn more about consent

Image-based abuse occurs when intimate, nude or sexual images are distributed without the consent of those pictured. It can also include the threat of sharing images without consent unless certain demands are met (sextortion). These images can be real, altered (i.e. photoshopped), or drawn pictures or videos. Image-based abuse is sometimes referred to as "revenge porn", but this terminology is misleading.

Watch this video by the eSafety Commissioner

Support and resources

Know that it is not your fault and you are not alone

Internal resources

  • Security for immediate assistance 24/7, call: (03) 9479 2222
  • Safer Community: Contact Safer Community if you witness or experience unacceptable behaviour
  • Counselling Support: Provides counselling support on a range of issues that may be affecting a person’s wellbeing
  • Use our crisis line for out of hours Mental Health and Wellbeing Support. Phone: 1300 146 307 or text: 0488 884 100. This service operates 5.00 pm–9.00 am on weekdays and 24 hours during weekends and public holidays.

External resources

For support, a member of the Safer Community service can accompany you to any agency below:

  • In case of an emergency, call 000
  • National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service (24/7) – 1800 737 732
  • Sexual Assault Crisis Line – call: 800 806 292
  • Your local Police Sexual Offences and Child abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT)
  • Your local sexual assault support Centre’s Against Sexual Assault (CASA)

Use the dropdown menu below to find additional external resources.

There are several online resources with information about sexual assault. CASA have published a series of information booklets about sexual assault, including:

  • Counselling after sexual assault
  • Crisis care after sexual assault
  • Going to court
  • Having a health check after sexual assault
  • Making a statement to the police
  • Money to help you after sexual assault
  • Sexual assault and family violence: getting help
  • Sexual assault: when sex is not ok
  • Sexual assault, the law, your rights

To access these resources, please visit the CASA website.

Please visit the 1800 RESPECT website for information explaining your rights and options after a sexual assault.

The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) website has a range of information and resources, including in relation to survivors of sexual assault.

Victoria Police have several resources on their website including;

  • A ‘Code of Practice for the Investigation of Sexual Crime’
  • A handbook about ‘Reporting Sexual Offices to Police’ that can be downloaded in over twenty different languages.

Please visit the Victoria Police website to find out more.