Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy

POLICY NO: C-12.5

Purpose

1. The University of South Australia (University) aims to provide a positive work and study experience for all its students, staff and other members of the University community, in a safe and inclusive environment that is free of sexual assault and sexual harassment. This Policy sets out the University’s overarching principles and commitment to preventing and responding to incidents of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

This Policy is to be read in conjunction with the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Procedures.

Scope

2. This Policy applies to members of the University Community when engaged in University related activities.

University-related activities are activities occurring on and off campus, including University related social events, and activities which use online platforms and/or social  media.  This includes, and is not limited to: 

  • Teaching, study and research at the University;
  • The management or administration of the University;
  • Sporting and recreational clubs and facilities to the extent that they fall within the University Community;
  • Any University-related clinical, professional or practical work, including workshops, camps or field trips;
  • Any other activities arranged, sponsored, controlled or supervised by the University;
  • Activities on any University campus and all University controlled buildings, facilities, places, and equipment;
  • Activities using information or communication technologies associated with the University, such as online learning platforms and social media.

Responsibilities

3. All members of the University Community have a responsibility to comply with, and demonstrate, active commitment to this policy and related procedures.

4. Managers and Supervisors are responsible for understanding relevant legislative requirements (as listed under this Policy) and for making every effort to ensure that the workplace and study environment is respectful, safe and free from sexual assault and sexual harassment.

5. All staff reporting sexual assault or sexual harassment on behalf of another person who chooses to remain anonymous, must disclose their own identity to enable the University to meet its responsibilities appropriately.

Policy Principles

The University has zero tolerance for sexual assault and sexual harassment.  The following principles underpin the policy, consistent with the University’s commitment to providing an environment that is safe, respectful and free from all forms of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

6. All members of the University Community have a right to expect respectful behaviour from others and have a personal responsibility to behave respectfully towards others.

7. All members of the University Community have a duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment undertaken by or directed towards staff, students or other members of the University Community.

8. In all instances where a disclosure or report of sexual assault or sexual harassment has been received, the University will take appropriate action to ensure the safety of the complainant, the University Community and/or any identified third party.

9. The University will provide support for students and staff members affected by sexual assault or sexual harassment. There are no time limits on seeking information or support from the University.

10. Under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 the University is required to make a mandatory report to the Child Abuse Report Line about a sexual assault which has occurred within South Australia where the complainant is aged under 18.

11. Processes to support disclosures and reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment will be simple, accessible and available through multiple avenues.

12. Investigations and the application of outcomes will operate in accordance with the relevant University Statutes, By-laws, policies, procedures and industrial instruments.

13. Procedures for responding to and managing disclosures and reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment aim to be trauma-informed and will be conducted in accordance with the principles of natural justice.

14. The University recognises that while anyone may be subjected to sexual assault and sexual harassment, certain groups within the community are more vulnerable, and an individual’s gender, gender identity, position/status, ability, age, socio-economic status, culture, or religion, may affect their experience of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

15. The University will provide student and staff members access to education and awareness campaigns with the aim of preventing and responding appropriately to sexual assault and sexual harassment.

16. The University is committed to reducing barriers to disclosing and reporting incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment and respects the rights of the person who has been subjected to sexual assault or sexual harassment to decide whether to make a disclosure or report. The University encourages people to make a disclosure or report and will support the safety of those who do.

17. Confidentiality and information privacy will be upheld, in accordance with legislative and reporting requirements and University policies and procedures.

18. The University will not tolerate Victimisation or retaliation against a complainant or a respondent, or a support person of either a complainant or a respondent.

19. A person has the right to lodge a disclosure or report of sexual assault or sexual harassment with an external body at any time.

20. The University requires all Third-Party Providers to respond to matters of sexual assault and sexual harassment in line with the principles of this policy.

21. The University will not take any action that will compromise a police investigation or any complaint resolution process of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC), or Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) or any other legislated regulatory authority.

Responding to, and managing, disclosures or reports of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

22. The University has established procedures for addressing and resolving disclosures and reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment that fall within its jurisdiction. These processes are designed to ensure the safety and rights of complainants, to meet the requirements of procedural fairness for both complainants and respondents, and to hold accountable those who have breached the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy. Appropriate action will be applied in accordance with the relevant industrial or legislative instrument and University policies and procedures.

23. Disclosures and reports can also be made directly to external authorities including the police, the EOC or the AHRC. The University will only report sexual assault to police with the consent of the complainant unless required under the University’s duty of care to the complainant or any other member of the University Community.

24. All relevant parties will be informed in writing of the outcome of an investigation.

Definitions

All terms in this section apply to this Policy and associated Procedures.

Term Definition
Anonymous disclosure Anonymous disclosure is where the complainant chooses to remain anonymous and/or chooses not to disclose the name of the respondent.
Complaint Complaint is a verbal or written communication from a member of the University Community who considers they have experienced or witnessed sexual assault or sexual harassment, either by a staff member or student of the University, or a Third-Party Provider.  A complaint may take the form of either a disclosure of an incident/s of sexual assault or sexual harassment, or a report of an incident/s of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Complainant Complainant is a member of the University Community who has made a disclosure or report under the provisions contained within this Policy. A complainant may choose to disclose or report an incident/s of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Confidentiality Confidentiality is the principle upheld to ensure that information provided under this policy is only disclosed to those legitimately involved in resolving the complaint, providing support to a complainant, or as required by law.
Consent

Consent is the free and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.  Some examples of where consent is not considered to have been given are: 

  • consent has been expressed or compelled by the words or conduct of an individual other than the complainant;
  • the complainant was incapable of consenting to the sexual activity if they were asleep, unconscious or intoxicated by alcohol or any other substance or combination of substances to the point of being incapable of giving free and voluntary consent to sexual activity;
  • physical force, threats of harm, an express or implied threat to degrade, humiliate, disgrace or harass the person or some other person; or unlawful detention were used by the respondent to engage the complainant in sexual activity;
  • the respondent induced, manipulated or otherwise coerced the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority;
  • the complainant expressed, by words or conduct, a lack of consent to engage in the sexual activity;
  • the complainant, having previously consented to engage in sexual activity, withdraws consent to the sexual activity;
  • the complainant agreed to engage in sexual activity with a person under a mistaken belief as to the identity of that person;
  • the complainant is mistaken about the nature of the sexual activity (for example the complainant may be told that activity of a sexual nature is part of the provision of health care);
  • the respondent was recklessly indifferent as to whether the complainant consented to sexual activity or withdrew consent to sexual activity.
Disclosure Disclosure is a form of complaint occurring when a complainant or another person tells someone about an incident/s, or a suspected incident/s, of sexual assault or sexual harassment directed towards them, or a member of the University Community.  Disclosing is not the same as reporting but it enables referral of the complainant to appropriate support and information about their choices and options with regard to medical, legal and counselling support and other appropriate action in response.
Enterprise Agreement/Collective Agreement Enterprise Agreement/Collective Agreement – means the University of South Australia Enterprise Agreement 2019 and the University of South Australia Senior Staff Collective Agreement 2006 (as varied or replaced from time to time).
First Responder First Responder is a member of the University Community who, as part of their substantive duties, may provide appropriate support and information to anyone who has been subjected to sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Supervisors/Line Managers Supervisors/Line Managers are the members of the Executive Leadership Team, Pro Vice Chancellors, Executive Deans, Deans, Directors of Research Institutes, General Managers and Executive Directors/Directors of central administrative support units.
Natural justice

Natural justice is a principle that provides for procedural fairness to all parties by ensuring;

  • all parties must be given an opportunity to present their case;
  • the respondent must be provided with notice and information about allegations made against them and information about their rights including to have a support person;
  • the respondent must be given a reasonable timeframe within which to respond;
  • the decision maker must declare any conflict of interest;
  • the decision maker must:
    • act fairly and without bias
    • consider all relevant evidence
    • base any decision on evidence that supports it
  • All relevant parties will be informed in writing of the outcome of a formal investigation.
Report Report is a form of complaint occurring when a member of the University Community formally reports an incident/s of sexual assault or sexual harassment, for the purpose of initiating an investigation. 
Respondent Respondent is a member of the University Community who has been accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment under this policy.
Sexual assault Sexual assault is an inclusive term used to describe any type of unwanted sexual act inflicted upon a person that they have not freely and voluntarily consented to, have withdrawn consent to, or occurs in circumstances where they are incapable of giving free and voluntary consent.  It is inclusive of a variety of unwanted sexual behaviours a person may be subjected to, ranging from activities such as unwanted sexualised touching through to sexual intercourse without consent. Sexual assault can include behaviours that involve the use of force, threats, coercion or control towards a person.  Grooming can be a part of the process used to facilitate sexual assault and is defined as the act of deliberately establishing a relationship of trust for the purpose of sexual exploitation, sexual coercion or sexual assault.  Sexual assault typically involves an exploitation of vulnerability, betrayal of trust and the misuse of positional power. 
Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance or request for sexual favours or conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated and/or intimidated where a reasonable person would anticipate that reaction in the circumstances.

Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • any deliberate and/or unsolicited sexual communication, the use of overt sexual language, suggestive or physical contact that creates an uncomfortable learning/working environment for the recipient and is made by a person who knows, or ought reasonably to know, that such action is unwelcome;
  • a sexual advance or solicitation made by one person to another, where the person making the advance or solicitation knows, or ought reasonably to know, that such action is unwelcome;
  • a reprisal, or threat of reprisal, for the rejection of a sexual solicitation or advance particularly where the reprisal is made or threatened by a person in a position to confer, grant or deny a benefit or advancement to the person;
  • practical jokes of a sexual nature which cause awkwardness or embarrassment;
  • displaying and/or distributing pornographic pictures or other offensive material of a sexual nature, including audio or visual images of an individual through technological devices, equipment and service;
  • unwanted physical contact such as kissing, touching, patting or pinching;
  • unwelcome sexual remarks, sexual jokes, intrusive sexual questions, sexual innuendoes or taunting about a person's body, attire, sex, personal or social life;
  • requests for sexual favours;
  • behaviour that may also be considered to be an offence under criminal law, such as physical assault, indecent exposure, stalking, technology facilitated image-based abuse or obscene communications.
Staff member Staff member is an individual employed by the University under its Enterprise Agreement or Collective Agreement, adjuncts, visiting academics and guest lecturers, and volunteers, whether they are paid or unpaid.
Student Student is an individual enrolled in an undergraduate, post-graduate, or non-award program with the University including those on leave or studying online.
Supervisors Supervisors are members of the University Community who have oversight and/or direction of the work of staff or students.
Third-Party Providers

Third-Party Providers - for the purposes of this Policy, a Third-Party Provider is deemed by the University to fall into one of the following 2 categories:

  • organisations or individuals contracted to perform a service/s for the University including, but not limited to:
  • those engaged to deliver some or all of a course of study to University students via student placements, internships, study tours, student mobility programs, an industry placement, research degree student supervision or ‘twinning arrangements’ that may be conducted on-shore or overseas
  • industry, institutional or community placements undertaken by staff as part of their work for the University
  • food outlet operators, cleaners and tradespeople, contractors, consultants and other vendors and suppliers, and
  • organisations with which the University maintains a non-contractual but continuing professional or collaborative relationship.
Trauma-informed response Trauma-informed response is a response that demonstrates an understanding and recognition of the impact of trauma, and emphasises physical, psychological and emotional safety, and the importance of empowerment and choice for those who have been subjected to sexual assault or sexual harassment. 
University Community University Community refers to all students and staff members of the University including honorary title holders, adjuncts, visiting academics, guest lecturers, University Council members, and volunteers who are contributing the work of the University but who are not staff members.
Unproven complaint Unproven complaint refers to a complaint which is found to be unsubstantiated.
Victimisation Victimisation occurs if a person commits, or threatens to commit, an act against a complainant or respondent, or another person acting in support of a complainant or respondent as a result of that complaint.

Associated Documentation

The following legislation applies as amended from time to time:

  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
  • Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 (Cth)
  • Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth)
  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (SA)
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA)
  • Whistle-blowers Protection Act 1993 (SA)
  • Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA)
  • University of South Australia Act 1990
  • University of South Australia Statute 7 – Student Misconduct
  • Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017
  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
  • The National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (National Code 2018)
  • Return to Work Act 2014 (SA)

 

  • Officer/s Responsible: Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture (ED: PTC) and the Pro Vice Chancellor: Student Engagement and Equity (PVC: SEE)
  • Approving Authority:  Council
  • Commencement Date: 28 October 2020
  • Review Date: October 2025
  • History: This policy supersedes and replaces:
    Policy C12.4:  Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures