Sexual assault

Respect. Now. Always. is an initiative launched by Universities Australia to ensure that university campuses are places of safety and respect for all students and staff.  The Respect. Now. Always campaign is about raising awareness in the university community that sexual assault and harassment are completely unacceptable. Western Sydney University endeavours to provide a safe and supportive environment for anyone impacted by sexual assault.

Students who need immediate support are encouraged to call (02) 8247 9175. This line is available 24/7 until 26 April, 2016, and is staffed by qualified counsellors. For further support, please see 'Getting help' below. 

The Hunting Ground movie screening

The Hunting Ground is a critically acclaimed documentary that follows the personal stories of
students who have been sexually assaulted on American university campuses. Interweaving
observational footage, expert insights and first-person testimonies, the film follows survivors
pursuing both their education and justice in the face of institutional failure to respond
effectively and appropriately to their reports.

This confronting exposé of sexual assault on American university campuses has sparked a
national debate in the United States about rape culture, sexual consent and victim support.
While there are significant cultural, financial and structural differences between American and
Australian universities and student life, consultation with relevant stakeholders has confirmed
that there are issues raised by the film that are relevant in an Australian context.
Western Sydney University invites our staff and students to a free screening of The Hunting
Ground at:

Parramatta South, Friday, 27 May, 17:30 - 20:00, EA.G.34

This film provides a great opportunity to open the dialogue about this important issue. It is a
powerful film and viewing it or the trailer (opens in a new window) may cause distress to some people. If viewing the film or trailer (opens in a new window) would cause you distress and you choose not to attend a screening, we invite you to access the confidential university Counselling Service on 9852 5199 for further information.

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual Assault is a crime that can happen to anyone, any age, any gender, any cultural background or sexual orientation.

Sexual assault refers to any sexual behaviours which lead to a person feeling threatened or uncomfortable, unsafe or fearful.

Sexual assault is never the responsibility of the person who has been assaulted and is often perpetrated by someone known to the person.

People committing the crime of sexual assault often use tactics to make a person feel responsible for the sexual assault.  This can make it frightening for someone to have the courage to reach out for help.  

Informed consent

To give consent you need to have an understanding of what is happening.

A person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol or who is asleep is unable to give informed consent.  Additionally consent needs to be free of any type of coercion, for example threats, intimidation or harassment.   
Support services can help you to confirm if you have provided informed consent.

If you have experienced an uncomfortable sexual experience, talking to someone can really help. It takes courage to reach out and we are here to support you.

Getting help

Students: What to do if you experience a sexual assault on campus or at a University event

You can notify any staff of the University, College or Residences that you feel comfortable talking to, but the key services you can contact are:

  • Campus Safety & Security - 1300 737 003 (24 hours)
  • University Counselling Service - 02 9852 5199 (business hours)
  • Emergency Services - 000 (24 hours)

Should you wish to discuss your situation with the University Counselling Service, you can expect proactive follow-up from the team, who can help support you. Counsellors can also refer you to other services for:

  • Emergency accommodation
  • Financial assistance
  • Special consideration for your studies

Staff support

Staff may contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) on 1800 818 728. The EAP is a free, anonymous service for University staff and their families.  For more information visit the EAP webpage.

Longer term support

There are a range of services at the university to help you. You may wish to contact:

If you would prefer to seek assistance outside the university, we suggest these options:

Helpful resources

Helping others

Responding to a recent event

The first response is critical to a person's recovery. Be supportive, non-blaming and compassionate.

If someone reports a recent sexual assault to you, this is the correct procedure at the University:

  • Ensure the physical safety of the person
  • Ensure the person is attended to as a priority in a quiet and engaged way
  • Notify Police (000)
  • Notify Campus Safety & Security (1300 737 003)
  • Campus Safety & Security will notify University Counselling staff who will proactively follow-up the person(s) impacted

Find out more from the 'Responding with compassion" factsheet. [42Kb, PDF](opens in a new window)

What to say



I am sorry for what has happened

I believe you

What happened is a crime

This is not your fault

I will do what I can to help

You are not alone

What to do



Listen to the story

Tell them what to do or try to take over

Let them express how they feel

Ask them the "why" questions, why they were there, went there, why they trusted the person.  "Why" questions are blame questions

Let them cry and encourage them

Get angry on their behalf, they have enough to deal with without worrying about you

Not worry if parts of the story don't add up

Assume you know how they feel.  Everyone experiences sexual assault differently

Tell them you are sorry for what happened

Explain what you can do

Remain calm