- Mental Health & Wellbeing Strategy
- Promoting Health
- Mental Health & Wellbeing resources
- Mental Health & Wellbeing training
- Contact the Mental Health & Wellbeing team
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 (opens in a new window) is about raising awareness in the university community that sexual assault and sexual 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 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732). This line is available 24/7 and is staffed by qualified counsellors. For further support, including emergency support please see 'Getting help' below.
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.
Information on services provided by 1800Respect in Auslan are available at:
- Sexual assault, domestic and family violence. How to get help and support (opens in a new window)
- What is Sexual Assault? (opens in a new window)
- Coping with Sexual Assault (opens in a new window)
GLBTIQ Counselling Services are available at:
Studying in Australia brings with it lots of new experiences, and for some International students it is also the first time they have lived away from their families. Sometimes things can go wrong. Seeking help early can make things less scary. In Australia you have a right to be safe and to have a life free of harassment, violence and harm. Your student visa will not be affected if you are a victim of crime
- If someone hurts you, Campus Safety and Security are always available: Phone 1300 737 003.
- The Police (phone 000) can also help keep you safe.
- In an emergency always call 000.
Sex offences refer to any sexual behaviour which leads to a person feeling threatened or uncomfortable, unsafe of fearful. Sexual offences are against the law in Australia. The Police will support you if you are a victim of a sexual offence. If you are the victim of a sexual offence, it is never your fault and often the person that commits sexual offences is known to the victim. People committing these crimes often try to make people feel responsible for the sexual offence and try to make them too scared to seek 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 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.
Staff can also contact Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia (1800Respect) on 1800 1800 737 732 for debrief support after assisting someone who has experienced sexual assault.
Longer term support
There are a range of services at the university to help you. You may wish to contact:
- Student Legal Services
- Student Counselling Service
- Student Welfare Service
- International Student Welfare Service
If you would prefer to seek assistance outside the university, we suggest these options:
- NSW Health Sexual Assault Service (opens in a new window) provides counselling, support including court support and access to medical assessments, including sexual health and pregnancy testing
- 1800RESPECT (opens in a new window) provides after hours and 24/7 telephone and online counselling support. Call 1800 737 732
- LifeLine counselling is available 24/7. Please call 13 11 14
- Mensline counselling is available 24/7. Please call 1300 78 99 78
- If you are a staff or student overseas, you may contact Customer Care on 61 2 8907 5686 (24/7)
- Living Well (opens in a new window) - Information and resources for men
NSW Health's Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) provides valuable resources. For more information visit the ECAV website. (opens in a new window).
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
THIS IS HEARD AS
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
It was something awful that happened to Tim and with courage he was able to tell someone
Tim was completing a Master of Teaching. He had developed many close friendships with other students in his course and they all hoped to graduate together in the near future. During his final educational placement Tim was indecently assaulted by a supervising teacher. Tim became uncomfortable and distressed during his placement. He was finding it increasingly difficult to prepare lesson plans and engage students. He was finding it difficult to sleep, sometimes waking from sleep up to 8 times per night, and as a result he was experiencing high levels of fatigue during the day and had missed 7 days of his placement.
Tim started to worry that he wouldn't get through his placement and graduate with his friends.
Tim spoke to another university student about what had happened during his placement and together they were able to seek support from a University Counsellor. Tim spoke with Police to assist him in determining what legal options were available to him.
The University Counselling Service provided Tim with a confidential space to heal and access to external support services.
Tim was able to speak to a Counsellor at 1800Respect (1800 737 732) and they really helped him develop strategies to assist him in his recovery. Over time Tim was able to regulate his sleep and heal.
1800Respect (1800 737 732) available 24/7.
With support from the University Counselling Service and the School of Education, Tim was able to complete his Master of Teaching and graduate with the other students in his class.
Too scared to tell someone?
Tan, an International Student did not tell anyone she was being sexually assaulted. She was scared as the person committing the offences said her visa would be cancelled if she told anyone. Tan also worried about bringing shame to her family. Offenders try to make victims feel responsible and can make them too scared to get help.
Tan showed her strength and courage in reaching out for help.
Tan contacted the University Counselling Service 02 9852 5199, as her distress was making it difficult for her to study and she no longer felt safe.
The Counselling Service provided Tan with a confidential space to heal.
Tan recovered and again felt safe.
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.
Did you know less than 30% of sexual assaults are reported to police? (AIC, 2007)
NSW Police provide the options of having a sexual assault formally investigated or the option of completing an online reporting questionnaire (SARO).
Completing the sexual assault reporting option (SARO) questionnaire (opens in a new window), can be completed anonymously. Completing the SARO provides important information to the police, without the assault being formally investigated.
For more information on SARO or reporting, please go to NSW Police SARO and reporting (opens in a new window)
Do you have a complaint about how your report, concern or critical incident has been managed?
Sexual assault and sexual harassment are distressing and confronting. The University Welfare Service and the University Counselling Service will support you, in any way they can, throughout a complaints process. Alternatively the NSW Sexual Assault Service NSW Sexual Assault Service are able to provide counselling support and advocacy support to clients that are receiving counselling support through their service.
If you have any complaints about how your Report, Concern or Critical Event has been managed please contact The Complaints Management and Resolution Unit.
You can contact the Complaints Resolution Unit by phone, letter or email, or download and submit a Complaint form (DOCX, 219.34 KB) (opens in a new window). If you believe that your matter is of a serious or urgent nature, please contact the Complaints Unit, directly by phone for guidance.