Sexual assault and sexual harassment
Murdoch University is committed to ensuring our community is free from sexual harm.
The University does not tolerate sexual harm. Murdoch takes a trauma-informed approach to sexual harm, which is reflected in our Sexual Harm Policy.
This webpage provides information on where to get help if you have experienced, witnessed or being informed of sexual harm. Remember, you are not alone and will be supported.
For urgent support contact these services:
Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC)
24/7 emergency line for recent sexual assault, and crisis counselling services 8.30am–11pm daily.
On campus, Murdoch University Medical Service and Murdoch University Counselling Service provide a range of services for students and staff. Both services can usually offer appointments within two working days, and the Medical service provides walk-in appointments with the university nurse for urgent situations.
Find out how you can support someone who has experienced sexual harm.
Sexual harassment is any unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited conduct of a sexual nature which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be likely to be offended, humiliated or intimidated.
Examples include, but are not limited to unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited:
- requests for sexual favours
- making sexual advances
- staring, leering or whistling
- intrusive questions about a person’s private life or appearance
- suggestive comments or jokes
- physical touching or cornering
- requests to go on dates
- requests for sex or other sexual acts
- emailing or exposure to pornography or rude jokes
- sexual gestures, indecent exposure or display of the body
- sending sexually explicit emails or messages
- distributing commentary, images or film of a person
- witnessing sexual harm
- displaying posters, magazines, screen savers or sending gifts of a sexual nature.
Sexual assault is any unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited sexual act or behaviour of a sexual nature which is threatening, violent, forced, bribed or coercive.
This includes any act or behaviour of a sexual nature to which a person has not given consent or was not able to give consent, including sexual intercourse without consent, and indecent assault.
Find out more about sexual assault and violence from 1800 Respect.
Sexual harm is sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, or any other act or behaviour of a sexual nature which is a crime or breach of legislation at the location where the incident occurred. Anyone can be a person who experienced sexual harm, regardless of their gender identity or sexuality.
Consent is fully informed, active choice to engage in an activity or action, where all parties have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. People who cannot give consent are those who are unconscious, asleep, intoxicated, drugged, otherwise unable to say ‘yes’, are under the age of 16, or have a psychological or decision-making disability that impacts on their ability to understand what they are consenting to.
Consent can change at any time before or during an incident, and this may be communicated verbally or non-verbally. Examples of non-verbal signs include turning away, pushing a hand away, or not responding to touch.
You can learn more about consent with these videos:
Disclosure is an initial sharing of confidential information regarding any incident of sexual harm.
How to disclose sexual harm
The University provides support and care for all students and staff affected by sexual harm. Murdoch offers confidential wellbeing services to help you with the physical, psychological and emotional impact of the incident. In addition, our Sexual Harm Support Officers (SHSO) are able to help you access specialist services, make a report and understand University processes.
Remember – the sexual harm you have experienced was not your fault. Staff at Murdoch University will always support and listen non-judgmentally to you.
Disclosing sexual harm to Murdoch University
Members of the University community who have experienced sexual harm are encouraged, when they feel ready, to make a disclosure to an SHSO in the Access, Wellbeing and Equity (AWE) team. Disclosures can be made online via incident notification form or via the Murdoch Safe App.
All disclosures of sexual harm may be made anonymously if you wish to do so. However, the University may be limited in how it can respond if information is de-identified. However, the more detail you provide the more we will be able to investigate and offer the appropriate follow up.
If you provide your contact details, an SHSO will respond by close of the next working day. The SHSO will provide you with information about support services available and outline the options available, including an option to report to the University or the police. A disclosure will be kept confidential unless there is a serious risk of harm to the University community.
You are able to have a support person throughout any stage of the disclosure, report or investigation process. The Murdoch Guild is able to advocate on your behalf. This includes alleged perpetrators and people who have experienced sexual harm.
Making a formal report to the University
If you wish to make a formal report, you are asking the University to investigate an allegation of sexual harm. Your formal report will be reviewed by the University’s Sexual Harm Response Panel (SHRP), following the University’s Sexual Harm Procedure, depending upon the nature of the incident and your request.
Once you have indicated you want to make a report, an SHSO will ask you to provide the minimum amount of information necessary to undertake a procedurally fair investigation. They will work with you to create the report and formally submit it to the University, which you will approve beforehand. To the greatest extent possible, the University keeps a disclosure or report confidential. Please refer to the disclosure flow chart below.
When making a formal report, a number of factors will influence how long the process will take. Every effort will be made to minimise the time taken to respond to a report and finalise and outcome, as soon as practicable.
All staff involved in the report and investigation will wherever possible, meet the pace set by the person who experienced sexual harm.
Potential outcomes from making a report
Every report to the University will be investigated to see how we can make the University a safer place and if there is anything that can be done to prevent further incidents occurring.
The outcomes from reporting will be limited to the area of authority that the University has control over. These are outlined in the University's Sexual Harm Policy. Whilst the University will do everything they can to support you, there may be instances where they are unable to take direct action against the offender without legal processes in place, such as police reports and/or restraining orders.
Reporting the incident may also assist the University in making other changes to help provide a safer campus and community for you and others in the future.
Making a police report
Murdoch University will support you to make a report to WA Police for any criminal matter. In instances where the University and police can work together it will enable us to support you more effectively and respond to any processes (such as use of restraining orders) that the police may assist you in putting in place.
You can report an incident by calling WA Police on 131 444 or the Sexual Assault Squad on +61 8 9428 1600.
If you are unsure about making a police report you can speak confidentially with someone from the University Counselling service or the Sexual Assault and Resource Centre (SARC).
SARC is a free service that offers medical, forensic and counselling services. Their counsellors can help you decide if you want to make a police report and support you through the process.