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Sexual assault and sexual harassment

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At Southern Cross University, we are committed to providing a safe and respectful community for our students, staff and visitors. Ongoing work enhances the Southern Cross University culture of support, safety and positive wellbeing by being a central point for student welfare, providing services and programs to support student wellbeing.

This webpage provides information that will guide and assist you or someone you know on the choices and decisions if you or they have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment. It will also outline reporting options and the available services internal and external to Southern Cross University.

Services offered at Southern Cross University are free and confidential, and accessing these services will NOT be shown on your academic record; it will NOT impact any visa status you may hold and will NOT affect your employment at Southern Cross University.

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 000 for Police.

If you or some else needs immediate medical attention, call 000 for Ambulance.

What is sexual assault and sexual harrassment?

Sexual Assault is any unwanted sexual behaviour that you have not consented to and makes a person feel uncomfortable, threatened or scared. Sexual behaviours include forced, unwanted sex or sexual acts.

Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour that makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It includes forced kissing, inappropriate touching of breasts or sexually explicit remarks and jokes.

Southern Cross University is committed to ensuring our campuses and accommodation are safe by eliminating concerning behaviours and gender-based violence from our community. We are committed to:

  • Providing a safe and supportive environment for students
  • Preventing sexual assault and sexual harassment
  • Providing and facilitating confidential support for students who report sexual harassment and or sexual assault.

Disclosure and reporting

Disclosure is when you tell another person about what has happened, usually said to someone you trust, perhaps a friend, peer, tutor, counsellor, or family member. These people may support you in receiving the appropriate care you need or assist you in accessing the official authorities.

Reporting means to make an official complaint with the Police. You can obtain information from the Police about the reporting process before deciding whether or not to make a report. This allows you to gain as much information as possible to determine whether to report.


Making a report

Students sitting under a tree at Coffs Harbour campus
What are your options?

Before making a report, it is important to understand all the available options you have. Our dedicated Student Safety, Support and Wellbeing Coordinator (SSSWC) can provide advice and information about making a report and can support you with this process. The SSSWC is also a point of contact if you would like to discuss any concerns you may have about reporting or if you have witnessed concerning behaviour on campus.

When a report of sexual assault or sexual harassment is received at the University, we have a responsibility to provide support and guidance to the person directly affected and the person who has been accused. This support will be individual and tailored to the person.

There is no time limit to making a report or lodging a complaint; you can make a report or complaint regardless of how long ago the incident occurred.

Student Safety, Support and Wellbeing Coordinator: Briony Leonard,
Email: Briony.Leonard@scu.edu.au
Phone: 02 6626 9643

Your options include:


Reporting to the University
Gold Coast campus

You can report to the University as follows:

We encourage you to report to Southern Cross University where you think there might be a connection to the University (including the residential colleges).

Southern Cross University has specific responsibilities to deal with allegations made against our students and staff.

We can and do investigate these reports. This can mean taking the appropriate action in conjunction with students, the police, professional bodies or other government agencies.

If you make a report, we will contact you to explain the process that is involved. This can cover matters such as any request for anonymity or whether the University believes it is obligated to report the incident to the Police or other organisations.

If you would like to report anonymously to the University you can do this by speaking with the Student Safety, Support and Wellbeing Coordinator — Briony Leonard, Briony.Leonard@scu.edu.au, 02 6626 9643 or with:
Southern Cross University Counselling Services — counselling@scu.edu.au, 02 6626 9300.


Reporting to the Police
glass front of building at Coffs Harbour campus

Police are well-trained to provide assistance and advice to people who have been sexually assaulted. Further information about making a report is available at the following websites:


External support in your area

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If you’re a survivor who needs immediate support, you can contact 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732 or you can call the sexual assault counselling hotline based in your state or territory. In an emergency, contact 000.

These support services are free and have specially trained staff in supporting people who have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault.

Support resources — safety, sexual assault and domestic violence


Southern Cross University internal support

Lismore campus buidling w ith water in foreground

Campus Security Contact Numbers: Campus Security.
In an emergency please dial 000.

These services are free and confidential. Accessing these services will NOT be recorded on your academic record, will NOT impact any visa status you may have and will NOT affect your employment at Southern Cross University.


Support for students
Gold Coast campus image

Southern Cross University’s Counselling Services are available for all students, including those who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment (regardless of when the incident occurred or who was involved). In addition, confidential and free in-person, Skype and telephone/SMS support services are available.

Counselling Contacts
LocationPhone contact
SCU Lismore/Gold Coast 02 6626 9300
SCU Coffs Harbour 02 6659 3263
SCU Sydney 0424 729 847
SCU Melbourne O424 726 960
SCU Perth 0410 131 655
Hotel School Sydney 02 8249 3227
Hotel School Melbourne 03 9601 3400
After-hours Crisis Counselling

Phone: 1300 782 676
SMS: 0488 884 143 (for text chat)


Support for staff
Support for staff

The University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free and confidential counselling to staff and immediate family members.
The Student Safety, Support and Wellbeing Coordinator is available to provide advice and support to staff members who have received students’ disclosures.


Additional welfare support at Southern Cross University

Service/areaSupportContact details
Office of the Vice President (Students) and Registrar Financial hardship information and referral scuassist@scu.edu.au
Student Outreach Accommodation Support unistays@scu.edu.au
02 6620 3220
Equity & Inclusion Support for students with a disability, chronic health condition inclusion@scu.edu.au
02 6626 9514
Counselling Services Counselling and therapeutic support counselling@scu.edu.au
02 6626 9300
SCU Health Clinic Lismore General Practitioner services 02 6626 9131

Supporting someone who has disclosed sexual assault or sexual harassment

Supporting someone - image shows green area at Lismore campus

It is someone’s personal choice whether they disclose to you that they have been sexually assaulted but if they do, this would indicate that they trust and feel safe with you. When responding it is important to know how you can support the person disclosing and supporting yourself.

Here are some tips to consider when responding to a disclosure:

  1. Allow time and space to talk and listen:
    Disclosing a sexual assault can be very distressing and challenging for a person and can make them feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. Provide time for them to talk in safe and confidential space of their choice and listen patiently and respectfully without questioning them. Asking curious questions is not helpful at this stage. Although you may be unsure of what to say, sitting with the person, listening can sometimes be enough for them, and allow them to feel heard.

  2. Believe the person:
    When a person discloses a sexual assault the responder's role is to show that they believe what they are being told. Asking questions about the incident can provoke feelings of being judged or not believed. Allow the person space for them to tell you what they want you to hear.

  3. Check-in around their safety:
    The person making the disclosure may continue to be in or may be returning to an unsafe environment, depending on the situation. Ensure that the person will be safe after you have spoken and perhaps explore options to assist them in managing their safety.

  4. Know what you can provide and offer options for them to make decisions:
    Acknowledge your ability/capacity to provide further support, offer suggestions of professional services internal or external to the University. Be honest in your communication around your limitations in this area. Provide options for them to decide what their next step may be, without placing any pressure on the person and recognising that this is their choice regardless of whether you agree or not. Your role is to support them in their choices, not to coerce them into making decisions that you feel are best.

  5. Support for you:
    Listening to a person disclose information about sexual assault can be quite distressing for the person hearing this; they may feel confused, helpless, have unanswered questions, or trigger your emotions around a personal experience. It is essential that you, as a support person, look after your emotional wellbeing and are safe. It may be beneficial for you to seek out a confidential service such as counselling which can provide support.

For Southern Cross University staff, there is an online training module located in the professional learning platform in Blackboard, Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence, that provides additional information on how to respond and support a person disclosing sexual assault.


Relevant policies

Outside U block Coffs Harbour campus

Policies are available at the SCU Policy Library


Respect. Now. Always. campaign

red flowering plant Lismore campus

The inclusion, respect and safety of all peoples at Southern Cross University are vitally important. Southern Cross University is proud to be an active member of the national Respect.Now.Always campaign that aims to eliminate sexual assault and harassment on Australian campuses.

See more about the Respect. Now. Always. Initiative and the Results of the 2021 National Student Safety Survey

At Southern Cross University, we commit to this ethos through our Humankind Framework.

HumanKind Module: an intersectional, systemic approach to addressing unequal power relationships across diverse student cohorts

This module seeks to position understanding, respect and empathy as enabled skills to reduce inequities in power relationships, fundamentally shifting human interactions to reduce the instances of assault and harassment significantly.

Consent matters: online consent education module
The University provides Epigeum's Consent Matters online education module for all students to complete. Developed by a collaboration of academics based in the UK and Australia, the online consent module is designed to help you understand sexual consent. Through interactive activities and scenarios, you will be stepped through:

  • What consent is, how to identify when it has been given, and situations where it can't be given
  • The importance of good communication, identifying boundaries and talking about them
  • How to identify situations where someone may need help and how you can intervene.

You can find more out about these modules in your Student Portal (Personal Safety and Wellbeing).

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