Sexual harm prevention and response

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

Building a connected, safe and respectful 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 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) through education and awareness raising initiatives, events and training
  • provide support to students and staff who have experienced harm, regardless of when and where the incident occurred
  • manage all disclosures of sexual harm in a compassionate, empathetic, supportive and person-centred way.

Deakin defines sexual harm as sexual assault (including rape), any other behaviour of a sexual nature that is a crime in Victoria, sexual harassment, and any behaviour of a sexual nature that may constitute student or staff misconduct.

Sexual harm prevention

Deakin has worked for many years with our staff and students to build a strong culture of safety, mutual respect and inclusion – but there is always more to do. This includes a commitment to proactively address the key drivers of gendered violence.

Selected priority actions to date include:

  • The creation of a primary point of contact (Safer Community) for anyone to disclose sexual harm and receive support. The needs and wishes of those who have experienced or witnessed sexual harm are central to the support provided. This includes when referring or connecting to other university services such as counselling and psychological support, medical, campus security, and external services including police, medical centres, hospitals and specialist sexual assault centres.
  • The implementation of a confidential internal database to record disclosures of sexual harm. The system provides options for anonymous and third-party reporting.
  • The establishment of a Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group with broad-based membership that continues to review sexual harm prevention and response activities and plans. The Chief Operating Officer, a member of Executive, chairs the group and reports directly to the Vice-Chancellor.
  • The introduction of an Online Respectful Behaviours Module which all students are encouraged to complete.
  • Student leaders from Deakin’s Student Association, Student Clubs and Peer Leadership programs are encouraged to participate in training and education on ‘Respectful Behaviours’ and ‘Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Harm’.
  • All students residing within Deakin’s student accommodation are required to complete an online induction program and engage with RESPECT values program.
  • Staff who work directly with students are provided with additional training and support and introduction of a compulsory staff training module on ‘Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Harm’.

Deakin continues to undertake new actions and activities to continue our work in this space.

Sexual harm response

If you or any other member of the University community has experienced sexual harm, we are here to support you. This applies to incidents that have happened recently or in the past, and regardless of the location (off campus, in a residence, online, or on campus). There are several ways to access support and/or make a report.

If you experience sexual harm or any behaviour that made you feel unsafe or threatened, contact Safer Community. Safer Community is a Deakin-wide service staffed by professionals committed to supporting and responding to any student or staff member who requires support. The Safer Community website includes detailed information on how to make a disclosure or report, what to expect when disclosing or reporting, and how to support someone else.

Please note that Safer Community is not an emergency service.  If it is an emergency or you or others are at risk, call 000.  If you are on campus, alert Deakin Security on 1800 062 579.

You can also contact external specialist support services which are available any time, any day:

  • 1800RESPECT: National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service: 1800 737 732
  • Victorian Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 1800 806 292
  • MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
  • QLife: LGBTI peer support and referral service: 1800 184 527 (3pm to Midnight)

We recommend staff and students download the free Safe Zone App for use when on any of Deakin’s campuses.

National Student Safety Survey

Deakin will be participating in the 2021 National Student Safety Survey (NSSS).

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

2016 AHRC Survey and Report

In 2016, Deakin participated in  a survey commissioned by Universities Australia and undertaken by the Australian Human Rights Commission. This survey resulted in the Change the Course: National Report on Sexual Assault at Australian Universities.

Find out more

Relevant University policies

University information