Safety and Wellbeing Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault Sexual Misconduct complaint information

Sexual Misconduct complaint information

Remember: You can report sexual assault or sexual harassment to Queensland Police at any time. It is possible to make an anonymous report to Police. You can also report incidents of sexual harassment to the Queensland Human Rights Commission.

Making a complaint to JCU is different to making a report to JCU, although a person who makes a report may choose to also make a complaint. A report primarily is about ensuring JCU knows that something has happened, and if the person affected is identified, ensuring that person has the support they need to continue studying and working. Making a report does not start an investigation.

A complaint involves a person providing more details about an incident. The level of detail provided will enable JCU to establish whether it is possible to conduct an investigation.

The purpose of any investigation is to establish whether, on the balance of probabilities, there has been a breach of JCU's codes of conduct and/or policy and related procedures. This is different to criminal cases where judicial decisions are made on whether a person has broken the law beyond reasonable doubt, which is a higher evidentiary standard of proof.

Regardless of whether a person is charged or not, or convicted or not of a crime, a person may face disciplinary proceedings if breaching JCU's codes and policies. See the section below which sets out the principles of Natural Justice.

Outcomes of the complaint process can include disciplinary action or other resolutions. Depending on the severity and implications of any breach of JCU's codes, policy and procedures, sanctions may include legal action, a formal warning, retraining, and/or other disciplinary action (such as suspension or termination of employment for staff, or suspension or exclusion from the University for students).

Complaint processes for all staff (including casual, fixed term and permanent) will follow the processes outlined in the Staff Code of Conduct and Enterprise Agreement (see: Enterprise Agreement clause 48. Misconduct/Serious Misconduct). Allegations in a formal complaint process that the University's codes or policies have been breached will be provided in writing, with the respondent having a set amount of time to respond, before a decision is made and any disciplinary action taken. Precautionary measures, such as suspension, can be made as appropriate during this process. Similarly, disciplinary proceedings for students will follow the Student Code of Conduct. All communications are strictly confidential to the parties involved.

If JCU commences an investigation, and the person decides to pursue criminal proceedings, JCU will suspend its investigation, but will continue to provide support to the person affected in all cases. JCU may recommence its investigation if, for whatever reason, the criminal process ends.

No, investigations and disciplinary proceedings and outcomes are confidential to the parties involved. JCU does not provide details to the media or others on any individual matter concerning staff or students. It is not appropriate or professional for staff or students to discuss the circumstances of particular cases, as this constitutes gossip and speculation.

Any person can make a complaint. It is possible to make anonymous and third party complaints, but JCU may be unable to proceed with an investigation due to lack of evidence from the individual who was directly subjected to the sexual misconduct, or where proceeding would not allow for procedural fairness or natural justice.

The guidance documents below can be found on JCU's Safety and Wellbeing webpage.

Guidance for staff accused of Sexual Misconduct

Guidance for students accused of Sexual Misconduct

Natural justice (also known as procedural fairness) is concerned with the rights and procedures used by a decision-maker in making a decision, rather than the substance of the decision made. It requires a fair and transparent process. All parties named in a complaint are afforded natural justice.

Natural justice requires:

  • The right to be fully apprised of the allegation(s), including the particulars of the allegation(s);
  • The right to be heard;
  • The right to be treated without bias or conflict of interest;
  • A decision based on evidence.

These rules involve complainants and respondents having a reasonable opportunity to prepare and present a case, and to have their cases considered justly.

The decision to make a complaint can be complex, and the Sexual Misconduct Officers can provide support in making that decision. The Sexual Misconduct Officer will provide advice on the procedures set out in the Sexual Harassment Procedure, and Sexual Assault Procedures, and other relevant Codes, Policies and Agreements.

The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency oversees universities’ compliance with national threshold Standards, which include requirements that universities foster ‘a safe environment’, have policies ‘that deliver timely resolution of formal complains’, and that students are informed in writing of the outcome of a complaint and the reasons for it. If you believe the university has breached one of the Standards, you can submit a complaint to TEQSA.

You can also make a complaint to the Queensland Human Rights Commission.