Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual behaviour which makes a person feel uncomfortable, threatened or scared. Both women and men can be sexually assaulted. Rape and sexual assault are criminal offences. Sexual assault covers a range of different types of assault including:

  • Rape which is classified as forced, unwanted sex or sexual acts (including sexual intercourse and oral sex).
  • Indecent assault is any assault that occurs under indecent circumstances (that is: groping, inappropriate touching of a sexual nature) (adapted from

The Queensland Government website defines rape and sexual assault as follows:

Sexual assault is when a person:

  • touches you inappropriately without your consent—groping is a form of sexual assault
  • forces you against your will to commit an act of gross indecency—a sexual act that does not involve penetration, for example a person forces you to touch their genitals
  • forces you to see an act of gross indecency, for example the person masturbates in front of you.

The maximum penalty for sexual assault is 10 years in prison unless there is aggravation—a weapon is used or more than one person is involved in the assault—in which case the maximum penalty is 14 years in prison.


Rape is the most serious form of sexual assault, forcing someone to have sexual intercourse without their consent. However, forcing someone to perform oral sex also constitutes rape as does digital penetration and inserting any object into the vulva, vagina or anus of another person without their consent.

Rape is considered a very serious offence and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

For sexual intercourse not to be rape consent must be freely and voluntarily given by a person with the cognitive capacity to do so. Therefore if a person has sexual intercourse while the other person is asleep, unconscious or their cognitive capacity is impaired by drugs or alcohol, it still constitutes rape.

(Source: )

It is estimated that one in three women globally experiences violence or sexual violence. ABS data from 2012 found that almost one in five Australian women over the age of 15 has experienced sexual assault.

Women aged 18-24 – a reasonably large cohort of our university student population – had experienced sexual assault more than any other age group in the ABS survey. Other studies have gathered evidence that men and LGBTIQ communities also experience sexual harassment and sexual assault.

For emergency situations that require immediate and urgent assistance including Police or Ambulance:

  • Call 000 (on external or mobile phones)
  • or Call 0000 (on internal JCU phones)

If sexual assault has occurred while you are on-campus, including at a Residential Hall or College you can contact Campus Security

  • Townsville: 4781 5555 or 1800 675 559
  • Cairns: 4232 1293 or 0419 677 874

What can you do if you have been sexually assaulted?

These two Information Sheets provide information on what you can do as a student and what you can do if you are a staff member supporting a student who has experienced sexual assault:

Information (flyer) for students who have experienced sexual assault

Information (flyer) for staff supporting students who have experienced sexual assault

Staff First Responders Form (staff login required)

You can find support and information about what you can do by contacting JCU Campus Security, Student Equity and Wellbeing, or an Equity Contact Officer. Contacts are available here.

To make a report to JCU you can speak to any staff member or contact JCU Campus Security, JCU’s Student Equity and Wellbeing or an Equity Contact Officer. Further information is available here.

Sexual assault is a crime and can be reported to the police. It can be reported to police any time after the incident has occurred, however the sooner the report is made the better.

If you are in immediate danger or want to make an immediate report call 000.

If you are on Townsville campus, you can contact JCU Security on 4781 5555 or 1800 675 559.

If you are on Cairns campus, you can contact JCU Security on 4232 1293 or 0419 677 874.

For further information on sexual assault, and how to make a report to the Police, visit the Queensland Police Sexual Assault Information website.

Information on your rights when rape or sexual assault has occurred:

Knowing your rights and your options, and talking about the impacts of sexual assault and harassment on your wellbeing are important. For further information on:

  • Types of assistance and options available to you
  • Medical/police processes
  • Support with reporting to the police
  • Specialist and interpreter services
  • Safety plans and protection orders
  • Free and confidential counselling and follow up services

Please telephone:

  • The Queensland Statewide Sexual Assault Helpline
    1800 010 120 available 7.30am to 11.30pm 7 days a week
  • National Sexual Assault and Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service
    1800 737 732 available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you are thinking about your options for medical and legal action you have a range of options available to you when thinking about reporting to police or getting medical assistance:

  • You can speak to a sexual assault counsellor about any of these options before you decide what to do
  • You can also access support, information and counselling from a sexual assault service or support service or be referred to private therapists (BRISSC)

Information and resources about sexual assault

The key contact numbers page will provide you with a range of services available if you need support following a sexual assault. The following websites provide you with information about the immediate actions you can take if you have experienced sexual assault including looking after your health and wellbeing, reporting and alternatives to reporting.

Referral directories