Student Access, Progression and Wellbeing

Student Sexual Harm Policy

Policy code: SS2046
Policy owner: Manager, Student Equity & Diversity
Approval authority: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Approval date: 20 November 2020
Next review date: 20 November 2025


This policy outlines Federation University’s firm stance against Sexual Harm, proactive approach to the prevention of Sexual Harm and trauma-informed response to both disclosures and reports.


  1. The prevention of Sexual Harm through appropriate and respectful behaviours is the responsibility of every member of the Federation University Australia community including its students, academic and professional staff, visitors and contractors.
  2. This policy applies to students as the person disclosing or reporting (who has experienced Sexual Harm). This policy does not apply to staff as the person disclosing or reporting.
  3. This policy does not apply to reports or disclosures of Sexual Harm relating to children. Reports or disclosures of Sexual Harm relating to children are managed under the Child Safe Policy and Procedure.

Legislative Context

  • Federation University Australia Act 2010
  • The Federation University Student Code of Conduct
  • The Federation University Staff Code of Conduct
  • The Federation University Child Safe Policy and Procedure


Sexual Harm Sexual Harm includes a range of behaviours that are sexual or sexually motivated and which may be direct, indirect, in-person, written, over the phone or online. Sexual Harm behaviours are of a sexual or sexually motivated nature that are unwelcome and make another person feel uncomfortable or unsafe. The term Sexual Harm is inclusive of Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault and behaviours that cause a Sexual Safety Concern.
Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is unwelcome sexual behaviour, which could be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can be in-person, direct (to the person), indirect (to others about the person), verbal or written and online.  It can include:

  • comments about a person’s private life or the way they look
  • sexually suggestive behaviour, such as leering or staring
  • sexually suggestive comments or jokes
  • displaying offensive screen savers, photos, calendars or objects
  • repeated requests to go out
  • requests for sex
  • sexually explicit emails, text messages or posts on social networking sites.

Sexual harassment is not consensual interaction, flirtation or friendship. Sexual harassment is not behaviour that is mutually agreed upon.

A single incident is enough to constitute sexual harassment – it doesn’t have to be repeated.

Sexual Assault Sexual Assault is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent or in a situation where the person is unable to consent or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. A person is not able to consent if they are: unconscious, intoxicated, not of legal age, do not clearly understand what is happening or what is being asked of them or if they feel threatened in any way.
Sexual Consent A communication freely given either verbally or physically that the person is agreeing to a sexual act or actions. A person might reasonably consider consent has been given if the consent if enthusiastic and given throughout the duration of the sexual contact. Consent may be withdrawn at any time.
Sexual Safety Concern A Sexual Safety Concern is when a student feels unsafe because of the behaviour of another person, where there is a reasonable reason to believe that the behaviour is sexually motivated. This may include stalking-type behaviours such as monitoring a person’s activity by following them, monitoring them online or through others, taking photographs of the person without their permission, asking for information about that person or unnecessarily being proximate to the person (such as attending or waiting outside of a class the student is enrolled in without reasonable cause).
Disclosure Disclosure occurs when a person tells someone about Sexual Harm or a Sexual Safety Concern but does not indicate they would like action to be taken. A person disclosing may be seeking support, advice, and referral or may simply want to talk safely about what has or is happening to them.
Report/Reporting A Report (or Reporting) occurs when a person tells someone about Sexual Harm or a Sexual Safety Concern with the expectation or intent that the university take action or support the person reporting to take action about the matter. Actions available to the person reporting and to the university are outlined in the Sexual Harm and Sexual Safety Concerns Procedure. 
Person Disclosing and/or Reporting The Person Disclosing and/or Reporting is the person to whom the Sexual Harm has happened or who is experiencing a Sexual Safety Concern. Reports or disclosures may also be made by a concerned third party or anonymously, however the actions available to the university to respond may be reduced in these circumstances.
Trauma-Informed  A Trauma-Informed response is a response which prioritises the agency (choice) as well as safety and wellbeing of the Person Disclosing and/or Reporting. A responding person or institution is behaving in a Trauma-Informed way when they acknowledge that (broader university community safety concerns notwithstanding) both the story of harm (disclosure or report) and choice about actions belongs to the Person Disclosing or Reporting and that where possible, they are prioritised as the decision-maker about their own matter.
Person or Persons Named The Person or Persons Named are the party or parties who have been alleged to have perpetrated Sexual Harm or been the cause of the Sexual Safety Concern.
Misconduct Misconduct is behaviour that contravenes the Federation University’s regulation 6.1 – Student Discipline. Behaviours that constitute misconduct are outlined in the regulation, Student Code of Conduct and Staff Code of Conduct.
Reasonable Measures Reasonable Measures are actions the university may take to protect an individual or the broader university community from Sexual Harm and to appropriately respond to misconduct. Reasonable measures will be Trauma-Informed, and will be in accordance with university statute, regulation, policy and procedure.
Natural Justice Natural Justice refers to the requirement to provide an avenue of response and fair procedural process for the Person or Persons named in a situation or action where the Person or Persons named may be subject to an adverse consequence.
Transparency Transparency refers to the rights of the Person Disclosing and/or Reporting to be informed about their rights and choices under policy and procedures as well as decisions and actions taken relating to their matter or other people who may be informed about the matter. Transparency also refers to the rights of the Person or Persons Named to be provided and have explained the policy and procedure as it applies to any informal or formal actions taken by the university relating to the matter in which they have been named.
Confidentiality Confidentiality is treating disclosures and reports of Sexual Harm or a Sexual Safety Concern as private and not sharing information about those matters without the consent of the Person Disclosing or Reporting. If a determination has been made that there is a serious safety risk to the Person Disclosing or Reporting or a broader safety risk to the university community, the university may take a decision to consult or escalate the matter and in that case will inform the Person Disclosing or Reporting and de-identify them where possible.
Secondary Consultation Secondary Consultation is seeking the specialist advice of a university staff-member (such as Student Equity and Diversity, Counselling, Security or Student Advisory) specialist committee (such as Safer Campuses or the Respect Now Always Committee) or external subject matter expert (such as CASA). The Person Disclosing or Reporting will be informed the reason that Secondary Consultation is being sought and where possible the matter would be de-identified.
Referral A Referral is a recommendation or introduction to a person or service where further advice, treatment or support can be provided. Referrals may be suggested but are at the discretion of the Person Disclosing or Reporting to take up. 
Victimisation Victimisation means subjecting or threatening to subject a person to some form of detriment because they have disclosed or reported behaviour that they believed constituted misconduct, Sexual Harm or caused a Sexual Safety Concern. Victimisation can include exclusion, gossip, making threats, harassment or any other behaviour that is negative toward the Person Disclosing or Reporting by the Name Person or others acting on their behalf.

Policy Statement

Federation University is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for its students and actively promotes respectful behaviour. The university does not tolerate Sexual Harm of any kind and considers such behaviours misconduct. Federation University will be proactive in its approach to prevention of Sexual Harm and pursue the elimination of Sexual Harm through ongoing actions in all spheres of university life. We will do this through the following principles:

Principle Demonstrated by:
1.     Commitment to a culture of respect and inclusivity
  • Education of the university community about appropriate behaviours and responses
  • Modelling of respectful and inclusive behaviour by senior university academic and professional staff, managers and student leaders
  • Active pursuit of gender equity through policy, programs and behaviours.
2.     Proactive action to prevent Sexual Harm
  • Ongoing face-to-face and online training of students, student leaders and staff about preventing and responding to discrimination and harassment, responding to Sexual Harm and consent.
  • Promulgation of materials to inform the university community about avenues for disclosure and reporting, their rights and available supports
3.     Trauma-Informed responses and procedural fairness
  • Dissemination of materials about where and how to disclose and report
  • Dissemination of How to Respond to a Disclose or Report of Sexual Harm for academic and professional staff
  • Adherence to the Sexual Harm Procedure


Federation University Respect Now Always Committee is responsible for actions and outcomes under this policy.

Manager, Student Equity and Diversity as the Policy Sponsor is responsible for maintaining the content of this policy as delegated by the Respect Now Always Committee.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) as Approval Authority is responsible for monitoring the implementation, outcomes and scheduled review of this policy and its accompanying procedure/s.


This policy will be communicated throughout the University via:

  • A FedNews announcement and on the ‘Recently Approved Documents’ page on the University’s Policy Central website
  • Distribution of e-mails to Head of School / Head of Department / University staff; and/or
  • Documentation distribution
  • Notification to Schools


This policy will be implemented throughout the University via:

  1. Reporting, documentation and response through the Federation University Safer Campuses webpage and Federation University Online Complaints System
  2. Actions as outlined in the Prevention and Response to Sexual Harm Plan of the Respect Now Always Committee