Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Procedure

POLICY NO: C-12_P1

Context and Purpose

The purpose of this procedure is to outline the University’s mandated processes for responding to disclosures and reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment to ensure compliance with the intent of the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy. 

This procedure should be read in conjunction with Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy.

Responsibility

All staff and students of the University and members of the University Community

Confidentiality

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

A. Disclosing, reporting and investigating allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment

1. Disclosures and reports enable the complainant to access information and support. A report is a more formal option which initiates further action by the University such as an investigation. 

2. Disclosures and reports can be made to first responders or through the University’s online reporting mechanism.

3. If a complainant discloses or reports to a first responder, the first responder will:

  1. provide referral to the appropriate support services including contact information;
  2. provide assistance with making a report to the University if the complainant chooses to do so; and
  3. document disclosures through the University’s online reporting mechanism.

4. If a member of the University Community (other than a first responder) or any other person becomes aware of, or has observed, an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment in relation to a member of the University Community, they are encouraged to make a disclosure or report to the University, the police or other relevant agency.

5. In the event a staff member, who is not a first responder, becomes aware of or has observed, an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment in relation to a member of the University Community, they are required to disclose this via the online reporting mechanism and provide their own contact details in accordance with clause 5. of the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy. They are not required to disclose the name of the person who was subjected to the sexual assault or sexual harassment.

6. A disclosure or report made via the University’s online reporting mechanism will be provided directly to the Pro Vice Chancellor: Student Engagement and Equity (PVC: SEE) and the Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture (ED: PTC).

7. The complainant may choose to confide in any other member of the University Community in relation to an incident/s of sexual assault or sexual harassment. If the latter is not a first responder, as specified in the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy, the person should support the complainant in accessing and talking with a first responder.

8. All disclosures and reports will be treated sensitively, responded to and progressed in a timely manner and managed in accordance with the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy, this procedure, other University policies and procedures and in addition:

  1. appropriate bylaws and statutes if the respondent is a student; or
  2. the Enterprise or Collective Agreement if the respondent is a staff member.

9. Where a disclosure or report is about a member of the University Council (other than the Chancellor; the Vice Chancellor; an elected University staff member; Chair of Academic Board or a University student representative) the report or disclosure will be referred to and managed by the Chancellor and the ED: PTC.

Where a disclosure or report is about the Chancellor the report or disclosure will be referred to and managed by the Deputy Chancellor and the ED: PTC. 

Where a disclosure or report is about the Vice Chancellor the report or disclosure will be referred to and managed by the Senior Renumeration Committee of Council.

Where a disclosure or report is about the ED: PTC the report or disclosure will be referred to and managed by the Vice Chancellor or their nominee. 

Where a disclosure or report is about an elected University staff member, Chair of Academic Board or a University student representative on Council the report or disclosure will be referred to and managed in accordance with the procedure outlined for staff and students of the University.

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

11. Nothing in this procedure precludes a person from making a report to the police or another external authority (such as the Equal Opportunity Commission or the Australian Human Rights Commission) at any time.

12. Where a complainant chooses to disclose or report sexual assault to the police, the University will not share any information received in relation to the report without the consent of the complainant, unless required to do so by police or under the University’s duty of care to the complainant or any other member of the University Community.

13. If a complainant would prefer to provide information in their native language, the University will provide an interpreter, free of charge to the complainant, and support them to access the service.

B. Making a Disclosure

14. A member of the University Community may make a disclosure of an incident/s of sexual assault or sexual harassment by raising it with a first responder. The disclosure can also be made directly by using the University’s online reporting mechanism.

15. The person receiving the disclosure will take reasonable steps to:

  1. inform the complainant of the support available to them and of the reasonable measures that may be implemented to enable them to continue with their work or study if there are concerns for their safety;
  2. outline the options available to the complainant to help them determine any next steps they may wish to take; and
  3. provide information and support in any other way as appropriate in the circumstances.

16. The University may, at its discretion and in line with legislation, its policies and procedures, take action as appropriate in the context of a disclosure.

17. A complainant may disclose an incident/s of sexual assault and sexual harassment to a member of the University Community, then decide to make a report at a later time. There is no time limit on converting a disclosure to a report and a complainant may choose to do so at any time.

18. The University recognises that a person who has disclosed sexual assault or sexual harassment may choose not to formally report the incident/s to the University. The University will respect a person’s decision not to report the incident/s and will continue to provide information and support to the complainant.  However, in all instances, the University has a responsibility to do the following:

  1. take any action to ensure the safety of the complainant, the University Community and/or any identified third party; and
  2. make a mandatory report of suspicion of sexual assault or sexual harassment occurring to any member of the University Community under the age of 18 under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.

C. Making an anonymous disclosure

19. Anonymous disclosures can be submitted through the online reporting mechanism. Where a complainant chooses to remain anonymous, it may limit the actions available to the University in response to the disclosure.     

D. Making a Report

20. A member of the University Community may report an incident/s of sexual assault or sexual harassment by raising it with a first responder. The report can also be made directly by using the University’s online reporting mechanism.

21. The person receiving the report will take reasonable steps to:

  1. ensure the complainant is informed about the support available to them and of the reasonable measures that may be implemented to enable them to continue with their work or study if there are concerns for their safety;
  2. outline the options available to the complainant to help them determine any next steps they may wish to take; and
  3. provide information and support in any other way as appropriate in the circumstances.

22. The report will be managed by the PVC: SEE or the ED: PTC (or their nominees) according to the staff/student status of the complainant and respondent.

23. If a report of sexual assault or sexual harassment is made, the University will investigate and act in accordance with its policies and procedures and any applicable legislation.

24. When a complainant reports an incident/s of sexual assault or sexual harassment, an investigation will be initiated within a reasonable timeframe. The report will be investigated, following the principles of natural justice, in a manner that is respectful to both the complainant and the respondent and in line with the requirements of the relevant instrument under which the report is being progressed. 

25. When a complainant makes a report of an incident/s of sexual assault or sexual harassment the details of the incident/s as described in the online form will be provided to the respondent as part of the investigation process.

26. An investigation by the University will assess whether, on the basis of fact or the balance of probabilities, the reported sexual assault or sexual harassment has been substantiated and if it has, whether it constitutes a breach of University policies, procedures, statutes, bylaws Enterprise or Collective Agreement, employment contracts or the relevant Code of Conduct (as applicable to the respondent).

27. Where the University investigates a report of sexual assault or sexual harassment any findings made will be in relation to alleged student or staff misconduct, not criminal matters. The University’s investigation process is not a substitute for a criminal investigation conducted by police.

28. Where the University investigates a report of sexual assault or sexual harassment the outcome of the investigation will be provided in writing to the complainant and the respondent.

E. Interim Measures

29. The University reserves the right to implement interim measures to reduce the potential for harm to any member of the University Community. Interim measures do not in any way signal or anticipate the outcome of any University process. 

30. Interim measures are temporary restrictions or requirements in response to a disclosure or report of sexual assault or sexual harassment, pending resolution of the disclosure or report.

31. Interim measures for students may include one or more of the following:

  • restricted access to particular course classes or modes of study;
  • restricted access to specified buildings or facilities;
  • prohibit a student from speaking to or approaching another person(s) (including via social media, email, letter or through a third party);
  • prohibition from entering specified campuses/University property; and/or
  • any other temporary restrictions or requirements the University deems necessary to reduce the potential for harm to any member of the University Community.

The PVC: SEE will determine interim measures as relevant to the specific circumstances of the disclosure or report and in line with relevant University policies and procedures.  The PVC: SEE will provide details of the interim measures in writing to the relevant parties.   

32. Interim measures for staff will be determined as relevant to the specific circumstances of the disclosure or report and will be implemented in accordance with University enterprise agreements, policies, procedures and by-laws.

F. Outcomes of disclosures or reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment

33. If a student has been found to have behaved in a manner that breaches University policies, procedures, statutes, bylaws or Code of Conduct, one or more of the following penalties may apply:

  • a formal reprimand and/or caution;
  • compulsory completion of a relevant training program and meeting with a Counsellor or relevant support service;
  • enrolment restrictions and conditions. This may include cancellation or suspension of a student’s enrolment;
  • immediate expulsion from the University.

34. Where appropriate, and agreed to by the student complainant and the student respondent, one or more of the following restorative actions may be applied:

  • provision of a written apology by the respondent to the complainant;
  • facilitated conversation between the complainant and the respondent that seeks to acknowledge harm, promote repair and understanding while preserving the safety and dignity of all parties.

35. In the event that allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment against a staff member are substantiated the outcome will be determined in accordance with Clause 60.16 of the Enterprise Agreement and Clause 24 of the Senior Staff Collective Agreement.

G. Reporting to the police or other external agency

36. It is for the complainant to decide whether or not they report the matter to the police or other external agency. The University will respect the complainant’s decision in this regard and will provide information and support to the complainant whether or not they report the matter to the police or other external agency. 

37. A person who has been sexually assaulted is encouraged to report the matter to the police. Responsibility for prosecuting criminal acts of sexual assault rests with local police where the offence occurred. 

38. A person who has been sexually harassed can choose to report this to the Equal Opportunity Commission (South Australia) or to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

39. The University will only report disclosures and reports of sexual assault to the police with the consent of the complainant, except in circumstances where the University has a duty of care or is otherwise required by law (e.g. where the conduct is related to a child or young person and falls within the scope of mandatory reporting requirements of state legislation).   Where the University has a legal requirement to report to an external agency other than the police (e.g. Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) or other regulatory agencies) this will be managed in accordance with the agency’s provisions for reporting .  

40. When reporting any disclosures or reports to the police, or other external agency, the University will only provide the relevant information as is required by law or as necessary for action to be taken.

41. If a report is made to both the University and the police or an external agency, the University may be required to suspend any internal investigation pending the outcome of the external process. The University will continue to make support resources available whilst waiting for the outcome of any external investigation. 

42. The University reserves the right to implement interim measures to safeguard the complainant, respondent and other members of the University Community following consultation with the police.

H. Where a disclosure or report relates to a Third-Party Provider

43. If a report is received by the University from a person who alleges sexual harassment or sexual assault by an employee of a third-party provider, a complaints assessment team (CAT) will be convened by the ED: PTC to determine the appropriate approach and assign key responsibilities. The composition of the CAT will be determined by the ED: PTC with regard for the specific details of the report.

44. The CAT will determine appropriate measures to manage the complaint including:

  1. Appointing a support person (i.e. a counsellor for student or a People, Talent and Culture Business Partner for a staff member) to communicate with and support the complainant through resolution of the complaint.
  2. Appointing a case manager to liaise with the third-party provider and the contract manager (as necessary) in relation to resolution of the complaint. The case manager will be appointed based on their capability to manage the matter.
  3. The ED: PTC will determine any necessary interim measures to be adopted during resolution of the complaint in line with these procedures.

45. The ED: PTC has oversight of the management of the outcome of the complaint on behalf of the University including liaison with the third-party and ensuring support for and communication with the complainant throughout the process.

46. The case manager and support person are responsible for advising the ED: PTC of the progress/action undertaken/ action required/ on the part of the third party.

47. The ED: PTC will ensure a report is completed on actions undertaken and the outcome of the process, including advising the complainant in writing.

I. Right to withdraw a disclosure or a report

48. A complainant has the right to withdraw a disclosure or a report at any stage of the process. However, the University may continue to act on the disclosure or report to ensure the safety of the complainant and members of the University Community.

J. Review and appeal

49. Where the complainant or respondent is a student and they are dissatisfied with the management of the disclosure or report, they can contact the Student Ombud, or in the event of dissatisfaction with the outcome of any review, they can refer to the State Ombudsman.

50. Where the complainant or respondent is a staff member and they are is dissatisfied with an action or decision of the University, they should refer to either clause 56 of the Enterprise Agreement or clause 8 the Senior Staff Collective Agreement or the Staff Appeals Policy.

51. If the complainant or respondent is a student and believes the University has breached one of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency’s (TEQSA) standards, they can submit a complaint to TEQSA (gov.au/complaints).


  • Related Documentation
    Policy C12.5:  Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment
  • Officer/s Responsible for Update and Review: Pro Vice Chancellor: Student Engagement and Equity and Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture.
  • Approving Authority: Council
  • Commencement Date: 28 October 2020
  • Review Date: October 2023
  • History: This procedure supersedes the procedural detail in:
    Policy C12.4: Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment