Understanding Consent, Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

Consent occurs when two or more individuals voluntarily and actively agree to participate in any physical contact or sexual activity. It requires that a person is able to freely choose between two options: yes and no.  Consent must be given each and every time for each and every sexual activity. Consent can be withdrawn at any time by any person.

Consent will not be considered to have been given where a person: 

  • is incapable of consenting to the activity if they are
    • asleep;
    • unconscious; or
    • intoxicated by alcohol or any other substance to the point of been incapable of giving free and voluntary consent to sexual activity
  • is silent
  • is not fighting back (an absence of physical resistance does not equal consent)
  • says ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ (an absence of verbal protest does not equal consent)
  • is forced or coerced
  • is threatened
  • is manipulated by authority

Click here for a more detailed explanation of consent, as defined under the University's Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures.

If you're still struggling with consent, we strongly encourage you to complete the 'Consent Matters' online training module

The following short video may also help increase your understanding of consent:

Copyright ©2015 Emmeline May and Blue Seat Studios

Sexual Assault is any type of unwanted sexual act inflicted upon a person without their free and voluntary consent and may involve a broad range of behaviours from unwanted sexualised touching through to penetration.  Sexual assault is characterised by behaviours that involve the use of force, threats, coercion or control towards a person, and makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened or threatened, and/or is carried out in circumstances under which the person has not freely agreed or consented to, or is incapable of giving consent.

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.  Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to:

  • Intentional and unwelcome acts of physical intimacy including touching or kissing
  • Requests or demands (directly or by implication) for sexual favours
  • Repeated sexual requests or requests for dates after the person has said no
  • Persistent comments on how a person looks or is dressed
  • Persistent comments on a person’s sex life or sexuality
  • Sexually explicit emails, text messages, social media posts or messages
  • Degrading sexual jokes and comments
  • Sexually explicit banter or conversation
  • Sex-based insults, taunts or name-calling
  • Staring or leering

Click here for a more detailed explanation of sexual harassment, as as defined under the University's Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy.


Urgent Assistance

24/7 Phone Support

1800 572 224

UniSA Support

Student Counselling Service
Monday to Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm
Metropolitan campuses: 1300 301 703
Mt Gambier campus: (08) 8723 1999
Whyalla campus: (08) 8645 8233

UniSA Out-of-Hours Crisis Line
1300 107 441 or text 0488 826 346 
5:00pm to 9:00am weekdays 
24hrs weekends and public holidays

Staff Counselling Service
1300 277 924

External Support

Yarrow Place
Rape & Sexual Assault Service
1800 817 421

SHine SA
Sexual Health Education Agency
1300 794 584