Reporting sexual harassment or sexual assault: Our Principles

Summary of Principles:

  • The University will review all allegations and make a determination on whether to proceed with an inquiry.
  • ANU will suspend an inquiry if the police have decided to investigate the allegation.
  • The police have the resources to investigate serious criminal allegations. The University does not.
  • The University respects the right of a student to decide for themselves whether to make a report to the police or not.
  • The University is committed to providing a safe environment for all students and staff and to support students involved in disciplinary investigations.
  • Investigations into staff or student misconduct are undertaken according to the rules of procedural fairness.

Principles Explained:

  • Not all reports of sexual harassment or sexual assault will involve reports to the police. If there is police involvement, the University will ensure the safety of students and suspend its inquiry pending the outcome of the police investigation. If there is no report to the police, nor any likelihood of a report to the police, the University may conduct an inquiry of allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault through either the Discipline Rule or the Enterprise Agreement.
  • The University keeps confidential records of reports of sexual harassment or sexual assault and misconduct processes undertaken.
  • All reporting of sexual harassment and assault are confidential and the University recognises the need to support all of those involved in the process. Making an allegation of sexual harassment or sexual assault can be a traumatic experience. Having such an allegation made against or being involved in the process as a witness can also cause distress. The University support services are available for all participants in the process. The fundamental principle that the University applies is to design and implement an inquiry process that does no further harm.
  • Inquiries into staff or student misconduct are undertaken according to the rules of procedural fairness. This includes ensuring that the accused person is entitled to have
    - a clear statement of the allegations made against them;
    - the opportunity to consider and challenge any evidence;
    - the opportunity to put forward their own evidence;
    - an equal right to make submissions to any person conducting a hearing into the allegations; and
    - to have the allegations heard by an unbiased person or panel.

The rules do not mean that the accused person has a right to question witnesses but they do have the right to understand the substance of any evidence brought against them in enough detail to respond to it.

In some cases, the person or panel that may be conducting a hearing can ask questions of witnesses and the answers will be made available to the accused person so that they have an opportunity to make any submissions that they wish to make concerning the truth or otherwise of that evidence.

Other investigatory bodies:

If a student has made a formal complaint and is not satisfied with the outcome after all University steps are completed, then they can make a complaint to external bodies. These include:

Commonwealth Ombudsman 

Australian Human Rights Commission 

ACT Human Rights Commission