Finding Support

Sexual Misconduct Officers

You can talk with a JCU Sexual Misconduct Officer about any matter that is causing you concern - no matter how big or small the issue might seem.

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.

The safety and wellbeing of the person who has been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual assault are at the centre of all responses.  All contact is treated confidentially.

What to do if you have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted

It's 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.

The specialist sexual assault services can provide support to people experiencing sexual harassment. JCU students can also access JCU Student Wellbeing and Counselling, (Townsville 4759 9743 or Cairns 4232 1150), and JCU staff can access the employee assistance LifeWorks on 1800 604 640. The Queensland Human Rights Commission can also provide information and options.

The Specialist Sexual Assault Services provide specialist, free, confidential support (24 hours by phone Australia-wide, and 24 hours in person response in Townsville and Cairns).

The Specialist Sexual Assault Services have support workers who can meet you and can offer ways to help you manage the physical and emotional affects you may be experiencing. They can explain and assist with legal and medial options, including any emergency health care of forensic examinations, and, any decisions about reporting to police.

The Specialist Sexual Assault Services can also assist you to access support from JCU to continue studying or working if you wish. They will ensure your decisions are communicated and respected. JCU Sexual Misconduct Officers can also assist you to connect with the specialist services.

The e-Safety Commissioner can provide general advice and guidance, including information about when to seek legal advice and where to go for legal assistance. The eSafety cyber abuse response guide may help in identifying appropriate actions, including reporting the abuse to various services and platforms.

You can report image-based abuse, and adult cyber abuse issues to e-Safety.  With image-based abuse, e-Safety may be able to take removal action, and in some cases take action against the person who posted, or threatened to post, an intimate image without consent.

JCU's Sexual Misconduct Officers can assist you with working out what support you need to continue your study or work. 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.

Supporting someone who has been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted

Attend to safety - Check if there are any immediate safety concerns. You can ask: “Do you feel safe?" "Do you need any medical attention?”

Remember:  Call 000 for ambulance or police in an emergency.   Call 000, THEN call JCU Security if the incident is on-campus 1800 675 559

Listen and be supportive - It can be very hard for someone to disclose sexual harassment or sexual assault. 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 ok - you don't have to rush in with words. Letting someone take charge of what they disclose also enables them to reclaim some of the control that has been taken away.

Believe them - One thing people fear most after they experience sexual harassment or sexual assault is that they won't be believed. Don't question the person's account. Do not ask ‘why’ questions - these questions carry blame and judgement. You may find that the person's narrative is disjointed and has inconsistencies; this can be an effect of distress or trauma and not an indication that they are being untruthful. Remember that sexual harassment and sexual assault is never the fault of the person who has been subjected to it.

Maintain confidentiality - It is up to the person to decide who they tell, when and how, and they are trusting you to respect that. Treat what is shared with you confidentially, do not share with others without permission. You can report an incident to JCU that someone has disclosed to you without breaching confidentiality, and there are specific instructions on how to do that here.

Refer to support - Remember you do not have to have all, or any of the answers - and it is not helpful to try and find out all of the details. The best thing you can do is assist the person to connect with those who can help, including with the specialist Sexual Assault Services, and JCU's Sexual Misconduct Officers, as required.

Take care of yourself - It can be confronting to support someone impacted by sexual harassment or sexual assault. You can call the Specialist Sexual Assault Services to confidentially debrief. Students can also debrief with a counsellor at Student Equity and Wellbeing and staff can call the Employee Assistance Program - Lifeworks on 1800 604640. JCU's Sexual Misconduct Officers can provide support to you whilst you are supporting a person who has disclosed to you.

The following resource provides guidance if you are supporting someone who has been sexually harassed.