Sexual harm

If you have experienced sexual violence or harassment, we want you to know it’s not your fault and you’re not alone. We’d like to help, if that works for you. Contact Safer Community.

Our Safer Community service can help.

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

  • sexual assault
  • rape
  • sexual harassment
  • other sexual behaviours that:
    • makes someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated, threatened or coerced
    • a person has not agreed to participate in, either in person or via online
    • 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.

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.’

Video - Consent is a cup of tea

Image-based abuse and sextortion

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.

Please watch this video by the eSafety Commissioner

Support and resources

Internal resources

  • Security for immediate assistance 24/7, call: (03) 9479 2222
  • Safer Community: Contact Safer Community if 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.

Factsheets by Safer Community:

External resources

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


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.

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria

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

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:
    • Easy English
    • Arabic
    • Bosnian
    • Indonesian,
    • Chinese (Simplified)
    • Chinese (Traditional)
    • Croatian
    • Dari
    • Dinka
    • Farsi
    • Greek
    • Hindi
    • Indonesian
    • Polish
    • Punjabi
    • Russian
    • Serbian
    • Somali
    • Spanish
    • Turkish
    • Vietnamese.

Please the Victoria Police website to find out more.