Sexual harm prevention and response

We're committed to preventing and addressing sexual harm, which is a significant issue for all universities as well as the wider community.

At Deakin, we work together to build a strong culture of safety, mutual respect and inclusion to ensure all members of our community can study and work in a safe and supportive environment. As a university community, we set strong standards of behaviour and we all have a responsibility to address unacceptable attitudes and behaviours.

Our aim is to:

  • prevent sexual harm (including sexual harassment and sexual assault)
  • provide victim/survivor-centred support to students and staff who have experienced harm, regardless of where the incident occurred
  • ensure alleged perpetrators are treated fairly.

The safety and welfare of the victim is always our priority. We manage all disclosures of sexual harm in a compassionate, empathetic, supportive and victim-centred way.

Australian Human Rights Commission survey

At the beginning of 2016, all Australian universities launched a major initiative to prevent and address sexual assault and harassment. As part of this initiative, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) conducted Australia’s first ever national survey to investigate the nature and scale of university student experiences of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Access the results of the AHRC report on sexual assault and sexual harassment

AHRC recommendations

There are nine recommendations we are responding to from the AHRC 'Change the Course' report on sexual assault.

Find out more

Diversity and inclusion

We value inclusion and diversity, embrace difference and seek to nurture a connected, safe and respectful community.

Find out more

Training and education

We all share a responsibility for strengthening Deakin's behavioural standards and overall community culture.

Find out more

Prevention

We have worked for many years with staff and students to build a strong culture of safety, mutual respect and inclusion – but there is always more to do. Deakin's focus on the prevention of violence and sexual harm recognises the need to address the drivers and precursors of sexual harm and offense caused by intrusive questions and behaviour.

We work to uphold inclusion and respect by challenging attitudes that condone violence, gender stereotypes, power imbalance, gender inequality and inequity. We aim to foster a culture of safety that is free of transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, discrimination, and any type of disrespectful behaviour.

We have strengthened our policy and procedures specifically on the prevention and response to sexual harm. These are now available for staff on the Deakin Policy Library (log-in required). By working together, we can bring significant change to not only the Deakin community but the communities in which we serve.

Priority actions to date have included:

  • Development of a Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Policy and procedure framework that gives students and staff a central point of contact and support for disclosing experiences of sexual harm, regardless of where they occurred.
  • A strong victim/survivor-centred support approach to the way we respond to incidents of sexual harm. This means disclosures can be made anonymously to our Safer Community service.
  • An extensive education and training program to improve knowledge and equip members of the Deakin community to respond to disclosures of sexual harm in a compassionate, supportive and empathetic manner. This training is underpinned by trauma-informed practices, which minimises re-traumatising victims/survivors while navigating through university processes.
  • Improved access to our discourse and support information, alongside our code of conduct and values, ensuring information is clearer and easier to locate.
  • The establishment of a centralised Sexual Harm Prevention Team.

Information for current Deakin students and staff

Sexual harm (including sexual harassment or assault) is never the fault or responsibility of the victim/survivor.

If any member of the University community has experienced sexual harm, there are a number of ways to disclose or report an incident and/or access support. This applies to both recent and historical incidents that have occurred either on or off campus.

Comprehensive information on how to make a disclosure or report, what to expect when disclosing or reporting, and how to support someone else is available on our Safer Community website.

  • If anyone is in immediate or imminent danger on campus, contact Deakin Security on 1800 062 579 or Victoria Police on 000.
  • We ask all staff and students to download the free Safe Zone App and use it whenever feeling unsafe or threatened.
  • To talk to someone about an experience of sexual harm and/or access support, contact Safer Community Service (Monday to Friday, 9am–4pm) on +61 3 9244 3734 or at safercommunity@deakin.edu.au.

Alternatively, you can contact off-campus specialist services at any time, any day:

  • Victorian sexual assault crisis line (24 hours) 1800 806 292
  • 1800RESPECT
  • MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
  • QLife – Australia-wide anonymous LGBTI peer support and referral service 1800 184 527

Find out more about Universities Australia Respect. Now. Always. initiative

Find out more about our values

Reporting Deakin’s sexual harm data

Deakin is publishing its sexual harm data as an additional way of encouraging students and staff to come forward with confidence, and rest assured that the University will put their interests and wellbeing first.

The following table includes data on the number of all disclosures (from students, staff and visitors) made to the University, including both those related to university business and those which occurred in a person’s private life.

Deakin has strengthened its policy and procedures on the prevention, disclosure and response to sexual harm. We have a Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Policy and procedure framework that gives students and staff a central point of contact and support for disclosing experiences of sexual harm, regardless of where they occurred.

It is important to note that the sexual harm data reported are disclosures, as distinct from formal reports and other forms of disclosures:

  • A disclosure involves the sharing of information about an historical or recent incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment with another person. Disclosures can be made to anyone and are usually made to a person who is known and trusted. A person who discloses may not want to make a formal report and may instead be looking for information about resources and support.
  • Formal reporting refers to providing a formal account or statement about sexual assault or sexual harassment to a person or institution that has the authority to take action. Reporting can be an outcome of disclosure, but it is not the only possible outcome.
  • An affiliated disclosure is officially attached or related to Deakin University. The sexual harm incident has occurred at a Deakin University campus, Student Residences or off-campus while on University business (for example, a university event, placements or study tour). This does not include incidents on public transport while travelling to or from campus.
  • A non-affiliated disclosure is the disclosure of an incident that has occurred in a person’s private life, unrelated to University business. The disclosure is made to seek support, advice and information.

Disclosures of sexual assault

Year Not affiliated with
university business
Affiliated with
university business
Anonymous
or unknown
Total
2019 1512 3 30
2018 28 13 2 43
2017* 11 8 3 22

Disclosures of sexual harassment

Year Not affiliated with
university business
Affiliated with
university business
Anonymous
or unknown
Total
2019 7 110 18
2018 2 15 3 20
2017* 9 19 10 38

*Please note that changes to data collection and reporting methodology were introduced in 2018

Definitions and explanatory notes

To correctly interpret the sexual harm data, it is important to review the definitions and explanatory notes. Australian and international research indicates that behaviours that cause sexual harm (sexual assault and sexual harassment) are underreported. Deakin is publishing its data as one way of encouraging students and staff to come forward with confidence, and rest assured that the University will put their interests and wellbeing first.

It is important to note that the sexual harm data reported are disclosures, as distinct from formal reports and other forms of disclosures:

  • A disclosure involves the sharing of information about an historical or recent incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment with another person. Disclosures can be made to anyone and are usually made to a person who is known and trusted. A person who discloses may not want to make a formal report and may instead be looking for information about resources and support.
  • Formal reporting refers to providing a formal account or statement about sexual assault or sexual harassment to a person or institution that has the authority to take action. Reporting can be an outcome of disclosure, but it is not the only possible outcome.
  • An affiliated disclosure is officially attached or related to Deakin University. The sexual harm incident has occurred at a Deakin University campus, Student Residences or off-campus while on University business (for example, a university event, placements or study tour). This does not include incidents on public transport while travelling to or from campus.
  • A non-affiliated disclosure is the disclosure of an incident that has occurred in a person’s private life, unrelated to University business. The disclosure is made to seek support, advice and information.

Definitions of sexual assault and harassment

The sexual harm data must be read in the context of the formal definitions as outlined in Deakin’s Sexual Harm Prevention and Response Policy. The policy includes definitions of the relevant offences including sexual assault, rape, sexual harm and sexual harassment.

Read the policy and the related definition

Respect. Prevent. Respond. Conference

As part of Deakin’s Sexual Harm Prevention Action Plan, in February 2020 we held the Respect. Prevent. Respond. Conference to discuss ways to eliminate sexual harm in the higher education, VET and TAFE sectors. Industry experts shared ideas about the interconnected nature of race, gender, sexuality and culture, and the further steps we can take to foster more respectful and safe campuses.