What is sexual assault & sexual harassment?

Our community values

The University strives to provide a safe, supportive and caring environment. Our commitments include:

  1. At ANU we believe that all students have a right to feel safe and secure at all times. We believe that students should be able to fully participate in all aspects of life on campus.
  2. We have an obligation to provide a safe environment for all students and staff.
  3. We believe that sexual assault and sexual harassment can prevent a student from taking part in activities and involvement in the life of the University.
  4. We will support students who report sexual harassment or sexual assault including facilitating access to relevant counselling, medical, police or legal services.
  5. We will do everything we can to ensure the safety of any student who reports sexual harassment or sexual assault.

What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are crimes in all jurisdictions in Australia.

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual behaviour that you have not consented to. It can take many forms ranging from:

  • unwanted touching 
  • exposure to sexual acts 
  • sexual images taken without consent
  • any form of sexual penetration.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

What is consent?

Consent is when two or more people explicitly agree to participate in a sexual act including intercourse, kissing and touching. Consent to sexual acts is freely given.

You are unable to consent if you are:

  • asleep, unconscious or significantly affected by drugs or alcohol
  • unable to understand what you are consenting to
  • pressured or coerced to have sex because of threats, force, fear, or harm to yourself or someone else
  • under the age of consent which is 16 years in the ACT.

Consent can also be withdrawn after a sexual activity has begun.

What is family, domestic and intimate partner violence?

Domestic and family violence happens when one person in a relationship hurts another or makes them feel unsafe. 

It is particularly important to be aware of this type of abuse given the current COVID-19 isolation requirements implemented in Australia and around the world. To read an update from the Respectful Relationship Unit Manager Sue Webeck on this topic, click on the Family, Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence During COVID-19 document link on the right hand side of this page.