Sexual Harm Prevention and Response

We will work together to ensure all are valued, included and supported and we will continue to recognise and celebrate our differences as a strength. Everyone in our community has a role to play.

We will foster respectful relationships, but we will also challenge and address attitudes and behaviours which are not acceptable. Sexual assault and sexual harassment will not be tolerated in our University. Victim/survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault will be supported. We will also work towards and partner with others in the broader community to prevent and change the culture that supports sexual violence and unacceptable behaviours in any form.


The release of the National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) in 2022 created a new opportunity for the University to review its current sexual harm prevention and response initiatives and identify gaps in our practices.

The Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Action Plan has been developed by the Respect at La Trobe Taskforce. Comprised of staff and students from across the University, the Taskforce was established to provide strategic direction for the University in developing prevention and elimination of sexual harm initiatives and ensuring appropriate responses to disclosures and reports.

The Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Action Plan was informed by Our Watch frameworks including Educating for EqualityChange the StoryChange the Picture and Change the Landscape. The plan also incorporates Rainbow Health's Pride in Prevention and the Respect @ Work Good Practice Indicators Framework for Preventing and Responding to Workplace Sexual Harassment.

The above documents orient our work across four areas:

The University will provide high-quality, evidenced-based staff professional development and student training that supports the institution’s prevention and response efforts. It will contribute to setting behavioural expectations and establishing a clear understanding of rights and responsibilities.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Organisational leaders understand what drives gender-based violence and their role in the prevention of and response to sexual harm.
  • All student-facing staff and student leaders understand how to recognise, respond to and refer sexual harm reports and queries.
  • All commencing students receive information on respectful relationships, gender-based violence, consent, bystander intervention, supporting a friend and reporting and referral options.
  • Research output that measures the effectiveness of the ‘Flip the Scrip with the Enhanced Assess, Acknowledge and Act sexual assault resistance program, (EAAA)’ for university women in Australia.
  • The La Trobe Respectful Communities training program has been evaluated and learnings applied.

The University will strive to provide best practice prevention and response to sexual harm and a community aware of their rights, responsibilities and resources available. Targeted initiatives will be delivered with groups facing intersecting forms of discrimination.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Community members affected by sexual harassment feel they can easily access trauma-informed, victim/survivor center support and feel safe to report or disclose sexual harm.
  • Staff addressing and responding to sexual harm in the La Trobe community are adequately supported by the organisation to do their jobs well.
  • Victims/Survivors, staff and students have been consulted on workplace sexual harm risk and backlash and have been meaningfully supported to participate in the SHPR Action Plan implementation.
  • Awareness of La Trobe’s Respectful Community, Safer Community and other support services has increased.
  • Groups at higher risk of experiencing multiple forms of discrimination and increased drivers of violence or experiencing circumstances increasing their risk profile for sexual harm can participate in targeted prevention programs and safe spaces to utilise.

The University aims to create a safe and supportive learning environment for our students, free of sexual harm and gender-based violence and with the information they need to contribute to prevention efforts in their chosen professions.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Personal relationships between members of the community are managed appropriately and supervisors and students are aware of respectful supervisory relationship principles.
  • Student academic programs and organisations and associated structures ensure the risk of sexual harm to students while off campus or participating in events is minimised.
  • Selected academic areas have a curriculum which prepares students for the application of gender equality and sexual harm prevention and response within their chosen professions.
  • Students living on campus are consulted and empowered to build a culture of respect, know where to get support and are protected from harm by university programs and structures.

The University will undertake measures to ensure that our campus and workplace environment secure the safety and wellbeing of our communities.

Expected Outcomes:

  • La Trobe can clearly articulate how it meets all aspects of its positive duty to prevent gendered workplace violence using both human rights and WHS psychosocial frameworks, including family, domestic and sexual violence risk identification, management and minimisation.
  • A robust and transparent data collection and reporting framework and system on community experience supports sexual harm prevention and response efforts and informs organisational improvements.
  • The organisation communicates internally and publicly about sexual harm prevalence, prevention and response efforts annually, including deidentified case studies and progress made.
  • HR systems including recruitment, promotion and performance management, contribute to a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace culture.
  • Organisational leaders are held accountable for preventing and responding to sexual harm by a strong internal governance framework and targeted performance indicators.
  • Facilities and Infrastructure improvements increase the capacity of women and people from groups with increased risk of sexual harm to feel safe and supported on campus.



Safety on our campuses is a high priority. We are working hard to ensure our campuses are safe places to be and we will continue to make ongoing safety and security improvements.

Current safety measures in place include:

  • A dedicated UNI-Safe Service. Security officers can escort students and staff after dark between buildings, campus car parks and local transport.
  • increased security patrols through our residential spaces
  • working closely with Living at La Trobe to educate new students about safety for the year ahead
  • increased lighting across campuses and on designated walking paths
  • increased CCTV on designated walking paths
  • improved camera operating systems to maximise the use of our infrastructure

Bystander Action Program

The University has developed the La Trobe AIDED Bystander Program, an evidence-based 4.5-hour face-to-face training. It uses the Latane bystander approach and embeds recommendations from VicHealth’s Bystander for Primary Prevention: a rapid review(2017) recommendations.

Respectful Behaviour and Culture Module

As part of the University’s continuous improvement in respectful relationship education, the institution launched its own in-house module called Respectful Behaviour and Culture in 2021. This module replaced the Consent Matters module and now focuses on addressing the drivers of sexual harm in line with the principles of the Educating for Equality approach.

Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Harm

The University has revamped its face-to-face Responding to Disclosure of Sexual Harm training. The new training incorporates recommendations from TEQSA’s Good Practice Note: Preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment in the Australian higher education sector (2020) and Our Watch’s Practice Guidance: A Victim/Survivor-Centred Approach to Responding to Violence (2021).

First Responder Training (face-to-face)

Respectful Communities continues to deliver first responder training to security officers. The training provides a more in-depth understanding beyond the skills provided in the Responding to Disclosure of Sexual Harm training.

LGBTIQA+ Ally Training

Ally training focuses on supporting students who have experienced harm or discrimination. Emerging literature shows the relationship between drivers of violence against women and the LGBTIQA+ communities. It also emphasises the unique drivers of violence against LGBTIQA+ people and how to foster a safe and inclusive environment. As such, La Trobe has recognised the importance of including these topics in our ALLY program.

Flip the Script - Enhanced Assess Acknowledge Act (EAAA) Program

The Flip the Script with EAAA program is designed to empower women in all their diversity to resist acquaintance sexual assault and trust their judgment when sexual safety is threatened. The program was developed by Professor Charlene Y Senn and has been extensively evaluated as one of the most effective resistance programs in reducing sexual harm for young women. It uses a victim / survivor-centred approach and is anti-women blaming.

Preventing Sexual Harm and Gender-Based Violence (Leaders and Managers)

As a continuum of our efforts to eliminate gender-based violence and sexual harm, the University will roll out our Educating for Equality training for managers and University leaders. The one-hour briefing informs managers and leaders about how and what our institution can and will do to prevent sexual harm.

Sexual Harm

Since the last survey, the University has developed the Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Action Plan. This policy was reviewed and updated in 2021. The policy now focuses on prevention, education, and trauma-informed response from the University.

Campus Safety Group

The Campus Safety Group is now the University’s top governance committee with oversight of the University’s strategies and initiatives in the prevention and response of sexual harm and gender-based violence. This group is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor, with senior staff and Victoria Police in attendance.

The Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Action Plan is implemented by a group of representatives from across the institution. The group meets quarterly and reports to the Campus Safety Group.

Women's Safe Place

In recognition that women experience suppression in all settings across their lifespan, Safer Community has created Women’s Safe Place in Bundoora. The space is supported and developed in partnership with social work placement students.

Student Leadership Programs

Tailored training on gender equality, respectful behaviours and responding to disclosures is delivered to student leaders, including:

  • Library Advisors
  • Living at La Trobe Residential Leaders
  • LTSU Executives

Tertiary Primary Prevention Network

La Trobe University works closely with our counterparts at other universities in a combined effort to eliminate sexual harm and gender-based violence. La Trobe is a Tertiary Primary Prevention Network member and meets regularly with universities across Victoria to discuss best practices, share ideas, and further the primary prevention profession.

Tertiary Safer Community Network

La Trobe University has been a longstanding member of the Tertiary Safer Community Network. The network frequently gathers to discuss best practices for responding to sexual harm cases, strategies for supporting students and ideas on safety planning. The network also discusses methods for assessing violence risks and strategies to keep the university communities safe.

Our Watch

La Trobe University has worked with Our Watch to develop the whole institution's approach to preventing and responding to sexual harm. La Trobe University was one of the four institutions to be part of the pilot program, culminating in the Educating for Equality Framework released in early 2021.

Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA)

The University has established partnerships with the Northern Centre Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) and Centre Against Sexual Assault Central Victoria to provide members of the La Trobe community with improved access to CASA counselling and services. CASA counsellors are available at the Bundoora campus, and they work with the Division of Student Health and Wellbeing in preventing and responding to sexual harm.

Respect. Now. Always. 2016-2020

In 2016, La Trobe joined 39 other Australian universities to make a national long-term commitment to prevent and address sexual harassment and sexual assault in university communities through the initiative Respect. Now. Always.

As part of this initiative, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) conducted Australia’s first-ever national student safety survey to investigate the nature and scale of university student experience of sexual assault and harassment.

View the AHRC 2017 student survey results.

AHRC Change the Course Report Recommendations

We progressed the nine recommendations made in the AHRCChange the Course report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian universities. There is still much work to do, as this is a long-term commitment to change attitudes, behaviours and culture.

Key actions taken included:

  • establishment of our Campus Safety Group, chaired by our Vice-Chancellor, who monitors and evaluates actions taken to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual assault
  • development and promotion of our Safer Community Service which supports and advises students and staff on all forms of unacceptable behaviours, including sexual violence
  • partnering with Our Watch to develop and trial a groundbreaking Respect and Equality program to help prevent sexual violence
  • development of a stand-alone Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Policy within a suite of improved policies and procedures, including reviews by an independent expert
  • improvements to counselling services, with a specialist sexual assault counsellor (NCASA) on the Melbourne Campus (Bundoora) and strong links with CASA services on other campuses
  • provision of training and education for students, student leaders and staff covering topics such as respectful relationships, consent, bystander action, sexual assault and responding to disclosures and boundaries
  • independent reviews of counselling services and accommodation services have occurred with the implementation of recommendations and improvements in progress

View our AHRC recommendations progress report [PDF 175KB].


Internal Supports

Safer Community

Safer Community is a free, confidential support service if you, or someone you know, are experiencing concerning, threatening, inappropriate or uncomfortable behaviour, including sexual harassment and assault.

Safer Community provides expert advice, information, and support to help resolve your concerns to keep you and others safe.

You can contact Safer Community by submitting the referral form found on our Safer Community website, email, or phone 03 9479 8988.

For emergency assistance, please call: 000 or 03 9479 2222

Need a UNI-safe escort after dark?

  • Albury-Wodonga Campus: (03) 9479 2222
  • Bendigo Campus: (03) 5444 7999
  • Melbourne (Bundoora) Campus : (03) 9479 2222

External Supports