Safety and Wellbeing Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated, and where that reaction is reasonable in the circumstances.  

Sexual harassment is unlawful when it falls within the relevant statutory definition under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) and/or the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth). Indecent exposure and stalking are criminal behaviours.

Sexual Misconduct Officers

Sexual Misconduct Officers provide a single point of contact at JCU for a person who has been subject to Sexual Harassment or Sexual Assault, or to the manager or person supporting that person. Sexual Misconduct Officers can assist people to access support, and/or make a Report/Complaint.

Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Displays of sexually graphic materials including posters, cartoons or messages left on noticeboards, desks or common areas
  • Repeated invitations to develop a closer or intimate relationship after prior refusal
  • Unwelcome and uncalled for remarks or insinuations about a person's sex or private life
  • Comments of a sexually suggestive nature about a person's appearance or body
  • Sexually offensive phone calls
  • Offensive emails and text messages of a sexual nature
  • Unwanted sexual attention using internet, social networking sites and mobile phones
  • Sexually offensive screensavers or posters
  • A publication, such as sexually offensive emails or graphics
  • Threats online of a sexual nature
  • Revenge porn
  • Sexual propositions
  • Indecent exposure
  • Stalking
  • Pressuring a student or staff member to engage in sexual behaviour for some educational or employment benefit, or
  • Making a real or perceived threat that rejecting sexual behaviour will carry a negative consequence for the student in education, accommodation, or University programme or activity.

Sexual harassment is not interaction, flirtation or friendship which is mutual or consensual.

It's never your fault

It is never your fault. You are not responsible for other people's behaviours. You have a right to be treated with dignity and respect. You have a right to privacy, and confidentiality, you can refuse to answer any questions. You have a right not to be judged based on your age, gender, sexual preference, ethnicity and/or cultural background. You have a right to ask questions and get answers. You have a right to decide what happens.

Connect with counselling services

Speaking with a counsellor can help with managing the impact of sexual harassment. Students can access a counsellor through Student Equity and Wellbeing (Townsville 4781 4711 or Cairns 4232 1150), and staff can contact Benestar on 1300 360 364.

Assistance to continue with study and work

JCU has dedicated Sexual Misconduct Officers who provide a single point of contact. The Sexual Misconduct Officers can assist you with working out what support you need to continue your study or work, regardless of who perpetrated the assault. Support includes, for example, safety plans, short term emergency housing, or changes to class scheduling, assessment, or work reporting lines. Support can be provided without identifying the other person/people involved. Support can include options for addressing the harassment, see below.

Listen and be supportive - It can be very hard for someone to disclose sexual harassment.  Give the person your full attention. Speak calmly, let them tell you at their own pace, without interrupting or asking direct questions about the experience. Silences are okay.  Letting someone take charge of what they disclose also enables them to reclaim some control.

Believe them - Do not ask ‘why’ questions – these questions carry blame and judgement.

Maintain confidentiality - Treat what is shared with you confidentially, do not share with others without permission.  Assist the person to connect with support services. (Note: you can report an incident to JCU that someone has disclosed to you without breaching confidentiality - see instructions below).

Take care of yourself - it can be difficult to support someone impacted by sexual harassment. Students can confidentially debrief by speaking to a counsellor at Student Equity and Wellbeing (Townsville 4781 4711 or Cairns 4232 1150), and staff can call Benestar 1300 360 364.

The following resource provides guidance if you are supporting someone who has been sexually harassed. Guidelines for responding to disclosures of sexual harassment

The following resources will provide guidance if you have been accused of sexual misconduct.

Guidance for staff accused of sexual misconduct

Guidance for students accused of sexual misconduct

Reporting an Incident of Sexual Misconduct to JCU

Anyone can report incidents of sexual harassment to JCU.

Support is available to guide you through this process. Sexual Misconduct Officers provide a single point of contact at JCU for a person who has been subject to Sexual Harassment or Sexual Assault, or to the manager or person supporting that person.

Sexual Misconduct Officers will assist people to access support, and/or make a Report or Complaint in line with the Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct Policy and the  JCU Sexual Harassment Procedure.

REMEMBER:  You can make a complaint of sexual harassment to the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland at any time. Tel:  1300 130670

Making a report is different to making a complaint. Reports will be used to track incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault impacting on JCU staff and students – and, if the identity and contact details of the person subjected to the harassment or assault are known, to facilitate information provision and support.

The University will act in line with the wishes of the person who has been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual assault (if identified), except in exceptional and very limited circumstances, for example, where there is an immediate and serious risk to others. Please note, if the person who is the victim/survivor is under 18 years of age, JCU has legal mandatory reporting obligations, please contact a Sexual Misconduct Officer for immediate advice.

The Report will only be accessed by the Sexual Misconduct Officers. Information provided in this form will be confidentially managed, stored and archived in accordance with JCU’s Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Policy, Record Management and Information Privacy Policies.

JCU will act in line with the wishes of the person who has been subjected to sexual harassment. The Sexual Misconduct Officers, with HR Business Partners as required, can discuss options for addressing the harassment. For example, depending on what the person wishes, the options could include:

  • Taking no immediate action
  • The supervisor or next level manager, or College Dean, resetting expectations about behavior with the other person/people
  • The requirement that the other person/people to undertake internally provided training
  • An apology being made
  • A Complaint being made with the potential for disciplinary action

Making a report is different to making a complaint. A complaint may involve an investigation, and University disciplinary processes may be taken against a Respondent. Sexual Misconduct Officers can advise and provide options about making a complaint as set out in the Sexual Harassment Procedure, and the Sexual Assault Procedure.

You are able to make an anonymous report but the actions that are possible in response to anonymous reports are limited.

Who can make a Report

Report an incident that you have been subjected to. You are able to, but do not have to, identify yourself or the other people involved in the incident. You are able to provide as much or as little information as you feel comfortable to share.

Report an incident that someone has disclosed to you. You should advise the person who has disclosed to you that you are providing a report.  You must NOT provide details that could identify the person unless you have their consent to do so.

Report an incident that you are aware of through other means, for example, you were a bystander, or have been made aware of indirectly, (such as sexual harassment that happened to someone else in a lecture that you attended, or a sexual assault being shared on social media) you can provide any details without approaching or contacting the people who are directly impacted or involved.