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.

Sexual Harm

Sexual harm is defined by the University as any behaviour of a sexual nature including sexual assault, rape, sexual harassment and other sexual behaviours which:

  • Makes someone feel uncomfortable, frightened, intimidated, threatened or coerced
  • Any kind of sexual activity that a person has not agreed to participate in, either in person or via online.
  • Where a person has not clearly indicated ‘affirmative consent’ or is not capable of consenting

Sexual harm occurs any time a person is coerced or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity, such as touching, sexual harassment and intimidation, forced marriage, trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, sexual assault and rape.

Sexual Harassment

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:

  1. comments about a person’s private life or the way they look
  2. sexually suggestive behaviour, such as leering or staring
  3. brushing up against someone, touching, fondling or hugging
  4. sexually suggestive comments or jokes
  5. repeated unwanted requests to go out or requests for sex
  6. 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, of if a child or young person under the age of 18 is exposed to sexual activities.

Sexual assault is a crime. Sexual assault is not the victim’s fault.

Statistics (Australia):

  • 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’. La Trobe University holds the standard of ‘affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity.’

Online 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

To access these resources, visit

  • Sexual assault, the law, your rights

1800 RESPECT has an information page that includes a video explaining your rights and options after a sexual assault. It is available on their website:

The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria has a range of information and resources, including in relation to survivors of sexual assault. Visit their website:

Victoria Police have several resources on their website, including;

  • A ‘Code of Practice for the Investigation of Sexual Crime’
  • A handbook about ‘Reporting Sexual Assault to Police’
  • Information about reporting a sexual offence to police that can be downloaded in PDF format in Easy English, Arabic, Bahasa Indonesian, Bosnian, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Croatian, Dari, Dinka, Farsi, Greek, Hindi, Indonesian, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese.

To access any of these Victoria Police resources, visit and follow these links: Advice > Sexual Offences > Sexual Offences Publications


La Trobe University Services

  • Security for immediate assistance 24/7 - 03 9479 2222
  • Counselling Service for personal support
  • Counselling After Hours - Call: 1300 146 307 or Text: 0488 884 10 (5pm - 9am weekdays, 24 hours weekends, and public holidays).
  • Safer Community to seek advice, support or report - 9479 8988

External Services

If you wish, a member of the Safer Community Service can accompany you to any external agency:

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.

Help for myself

Are you in immediate danger? If you are in immediate danger or seriously injured, please call 000 (or 0 000 from University phones).

Find a place where you feel safe. If an incident has just occurred and a safe place cannot be located, consider contacting Campus Security (03 9479 2222) for assistance.

If you have experienced sexual violence or assault, please consider contacting the Centres Against Sexual Assault. They will listen, believe and support you in making decisions which are right for you. The information you provide will not be reported back to the University, and you will be provided with support and reporting options. Outside of regular business hours you can contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292. Please note, if you are based at Bundoora, you may be able to access services from the Northern Centre Against Sexual Assault on campus. For more information, please contact Northern CASA on 03 9496 2240 and identify yourself as a La Trobe student.

Consider contacting Safer Community We will listen, believe and support you in determining a course of action which is right for you. Call us on 03 9479 8988, or click Report Online below.

If you have experienced image-based abuse or sextortion, consider reporting this to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. Please visit their website for further information and resources.

Looking for more information? Our Sexual Harm Fact Sheet [PDF 242KB] offers some primary information as well as support and referring contacts

If you’re not ready to contact a support service, confiding in someone you trust – a friend, family member, co-worker or counsellor – may help.

Help for someone else

If you’re worried about someone else, there are things you can do to help.

Are they in immediate danger? If they are in immediate danger or seriously injured, please call 000 (or 0 000 from University phones).

Find a place where they feel safe. If an incident has just occurred and a safe place cannot be located, suggest contacting Campus Security (03 9479 2222) for assistance.

Listen. Believe. Support.

  • encourage them to talk, without putting words in their mouth. Let them express how they are feeling. (Be prepared – there may be long bouts of silence as they process their thoughts),
  • reassure them that what has happened is not their fault,
  • focus on listening rather than questioning. The victim/survivor may not have the capacity to describe their feelings or articulate their preferred course of action. Remember: it's not up to you to gather information or pass judgement about the specifics of the incident(s),
  • consider suggesting they contact family, a close friend or the Centres Against Sexual Assault,
  • respect the victim/survivor’s decisions. Only they can decide whether to contact anyone else, and whether they wish to proceed with a report (to police or the University).There are a lot of reasons why someone may choose not to report sexual violence, and this choice should be respected.
  • Check out our Responding to Sexual Assault Disclosures Fact Sheet [PDF 209KB] to see some helpful tips and tricks that may help.

Consider contacting Safer Community We can help you provide reasonable support through recommending options and resources. You will not need to disclose the name of the person impacted to us unless we believe there is a genuine threat to their health and safety. Call us on 03 9479 8988, or click Report Online below.

If they've experienced image-based abuse or sextortion, visit the Office of the eSafety Commissioner for further information and resources.

Be an active bystander. Not sure how? Our Bystander Action Fact Sheet [PDF 288KB] has some tips, supports, and referrals to help

If you’re not ready to contact Safer Community, confiding in someone you trust – a friend, family member, co-worker or counsellor – may help, but please do not provide them with names or identifying details without the victim/survivor’s permission

If you're a staff member who is concerned about a student, review our resources for responding to and referring concerns on the Safer Community Intranet [Staff login required]

Safe Connections

La Trobe University Safer Community has a local partnership with Safe Connections, a program by WESNET and Telstra, where we can provide women-identifying survivors of family violence, sexual assault and technology facilitated abuse with free pre-paid smart phones, including $30 credit, as a way of helping link them in with life changing supports. Women-identifying staff and students who have experienced technology facilitated abuse can be referred to Safer Community for a Safe Connection phone and credit, and advice on appropriate internal and external support services.

Contact Safer Community for a Safe Connection:

P: 9479 8988
Office: PE, Level 2, Bundoora Campus


La Trobe University prohibits retaliation against anyone involved in a notification or complaint of unacceptable behaviour.

Victimisation is subjecting or threatening to subject someone to a detriment because they have asserted their rights, made a complaint, helped someone else make a complaint, or refused to do something because it would be discrimination, sexual harassment or victimisation. Victimisation is against the law.

It is also victimisation to threaten someone (such as a witness) who may be involved in investigating a concern or complaint.

Victimisation is a very serious breach of policy and may result in formal discipline against the perpetrator.

Relevant Policies and Procedures

Report Online

For emergency assistance, please call

Emergency Services on 000
or Campus Security on 03 9479 2222