Sexual assault and sexual harassment

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.

Lismore campus library students


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 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.

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: [email protected]
Phone: 1800 72 4357

Your options include:

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.

Report anonymously

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, [email protected], 1800 72 4357 or
  • Southern Cross University Counselling Services — [email protected], 1800 72 4357.

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:

New South Wales



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

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, Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence, that provides additional information on how to respond and support a person disclosing sexual assault.

Students in the stairway

Southern Cross University internal support

These services are free and confidential.

We're committed to keeping our students, staff and visitors safe.

In an emergency please dial 000.

1800 SC HELP

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, Zoom and telephone/SMS support services are available.

For after-hours crisis counselling support please phone 1300 782 676 or text 0488 884 143. This service is available from 5pm to 9am weekdays, and 24 hours on weekends and public holidays. The service is operated by a team of qualified crisis support specialists who provide support. The service offers immediate and short-term crisis support only.

Counselling Services

Service/area Support Contact details
Office of the Vice President (Students) and Registrar Financial hardship information and referral [email protected]
Student Care & Support
Accommodation Support [email protected]
1800 72 4357
Equity & Inclusion Support for students with a disability, chronic health condition [email protected]
1800 72 4357
Counselling Services Counselling and therapeutic support [email protected]
1800 72 4357
Prema House Medical
General Practitioner services 02 6622 5030
Call SCU After-Hours Crisis Counselling
Students walking and chatting

Further Information and resources

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.

Discover a wealth of information and resources at the student Self-help Hub, dedicated to supporting university students in building safe and respectful relationships. Explore insights into embodying respect within the Southern Cross University community and find resources that contribute to fostering an inclusive and diverse culture on campus. Visit the hub for valuable tools and guidance to enrich your university experience.

Self-help Hub

Are you a student needing help?

Security and support services

1800 SC HELP / 1800 72 4357