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any type of unwanted sexual act inflicted upon a person that they have not freely and voluntarily consented to, have withdrawn consent to, or occurs in circumstances where they are incapable of giving free and voluntary consent.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. 

For fact sheets about sexual assault in English, Simplified Chinese, Vietnamese and Malay, visit our website.

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.

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.

There is a range of support options available to you if you have experienced sexual assault or harassment.  It doesn’t matter if the incident occurred recently or a long time ago, if it happened on-campus or off-campus, or whether you are a student or a staff member.  Support is always available and we encourage you to make use of the free and confidential services both at UniSA or, if you prefer, outside of the University.

Click here for more information.


Free and confidential counselling is available for all students and staff, from Centacare, located at 28 Head Street, Whyalla. To phone for an appointment, please call (08) 8645 8233.

Please be ready to provide your staff or student identification number to the counselling service.

Mount Gambier

Free and confidential counselling is available for all students and staff, from Liz Moriarty and Associates, located at 10 Eleanor Street, Mount Gambier. To phone for an appointment, please call (08) 8723 1999. Please be ready to provide your staff or student identification number to the counselling service.

People who have been subjected to sexual assault or sexual harassment can experience a range of effects which can have an impact on their studies. The university may be able to help you by getting extensions on assignments, extra time in exams or deferred exams. You should contact UniSA Counselling Service to make an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your options and to seek emotional support. 

Support is always available and we encourage you to make use of the free and confidential services both at UniSA or, if you prefer, outside of the University:

You can anonymously seek confidential support from Lifeline Australia 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 13 11 14 or by accessing the crisis support chat between 6.30pm and 11.30pm 7 days a week.

You can also contact the UniSA Out-of-Hours Crisis Line on 1300 107 441 or text 0488 884 163 from 5.00 PM to 9.00 AM on weekdays, 24 hours on the weekends and public holidays.

Alternatively you can also call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.  This is a free, 24 hour a day/7 day a week service which also offers an online chat service.

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.

Please note:  If you are under the age of 18 and disclose a sexual assault, the University of South Australia is legally obliged to report the matter to the Child Abuse Report Line (CARL).

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. 

You can also choose to report the incident to the police or Equal Opportunity Commission. 

Click here for more information on your reporting options. 

The information you provide is treated confidentially and information shared only with those who need to know in order to investigate and resolve the matter.  However, there are exceptions, where the university may need to make further disclosures, including:

  • when we believe you or a member of the university community is in danger
  • when a person aged under 18 years of age is involved
  • to assist in making safety plans
  • to arrange support for you
  • when the state or federal law requires it

Yes. It is up to you what information you provide to us and you can use the online reporting system when you want to ensure that the university is aware that an incident happened, but you don’t want to reveal your identity. If you decide to make an anonymous report, we are limited in the follow-up action we can take. For example, the university is unlikely to commence a formal investigation based upon an anonymous report. However, if a number of anonymous reports highlight particular activities or areas of risk, the university may take steps to reduce the risk of further incidents occurring.

If you are under the age of 18 and report a sexual assault, the University of South Australia is legally obliged to report the matter to the Child Abuse Report Line (CARL), which is part of the Department for Child Protection (DCP). Workers from DCP may get in touch with you, especially if your safety is at risk. DCP will also forward the information about the sexual assault to the police. The police may contact you to discuss what happened and if you would like to report it to the police for investigation.

UniSA takes sexual assault and sexual harassment very seriously and is committed to ensuring a safe environment for all staff and students. Reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment are investigated in accordance with the Policy and Procedures and in line with the principles of natural justice. If you are UniSA student or staff member who has been reported for sexual assault or sexual harassment, you will be provided with information about the report and given the opportunity to respond.

You can also take the following steps:

  • Stay informed
    Acting immediately when you may be upset, angry, confused, or shocked is unlikely to help your case. It is always better to seek advice and support first so that you can understand your options. Make sure your contact details (e.g., mobile phone number) are up to date with UniSA and check your staff/student email account regularly. If an investigation is being conducted, UniSA will provide you with information about this process and who you can tell about your involvement. You may need to abide by confidentiality requirements (e.g., not talk about the case except with a nominated support person) and you may be required to cease contact with the person/people who made the complaint against you.

  • Find out about the investigation process
    You are entitled to understand your rights and the process of a university investigation. Asking questions about this will never be linked to an assumption of wrongdoing. You can access information about UniSA policy and procedures here.

  • Access support
    Students can access free and confidential emotional support from the UniSA Counselling Service. Staff can access free and confidential emotional support from the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

  • Be prepared for possible scenarios Interim Actions
    In some situations, UniSA may need to limit your contact with the university during an investigation. This is not a punishment. It may be necessary to protect you from further complaints. If UniSA decides that interim action is required, you will be notified in writing and have the option to appeal this decision.

  • Police Investigation
    A report may be made to the police as well as the university. In this case, UniSA cannot perform its own investigation until the police investigation has concluded. UniSA can use information from, or the outcome of, a police investigation in its own internal investigation. UniSA may pass information to police when someone is at immediate or significant risk or when the police have asked us to.

UniSA has partnered with International SOS to offer our staff and students medical, safety and security advice, referrals, emotional support and routine & emergency assistance when travelling or living abroad. As a UniSA student or staff member, we strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with the services available to you in preparation of your next trip and while overseas.

Disclosing an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment is a big step to take for the person disclosing, so it’s important to respond with empathy and to offer support. For detailed information on what you can say, do and how you can help, please see the providing support page.

UniSA is committed to building a culture of respect and inclusivity in which everyone feels safe. UniSA has specific a Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policy and provides training to students and staff. You can read more about our work here.

Urgent Assistance

24/7 Phone Support

1800 737 732

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 884 163
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

Sexual Health Education Agency
1300 794 584