What is sexual assault?

Sexual assault is a criminal offence, and is any unwanted or forced sexual act or behaviour without consent. Safety and respect are central to our university culture. UQ does not tolerate disrespectful or sexist behaviour, sexual harassment or sexual assault.

UQ Prevention of Sexual Harassment Policy

If you have experienced sexual assault

If you’ve just been sexually assaulted or are in immediate danger:

  • Get to a safe place
  • Phone Triple Zero (000) or if on campus grounds, UQ security 3365 3333.

Who can help me / where can I find support

Once you are out of immediate danger you can contact one of the Student Services Team for assistance. A trained member of our team will support you throughout the process of reporting to the Police. Contact our counselling and support service on 3365 1704.

If you’d prefer to talk to someone outside of the University, you can contact Lifeline 13 11 14 available 24 hours a day. There are a range of additional support lines available to you, see the full list here.

If you wish to report to the police it is important that you:

  • Try not shower or bathe
  • Try not to wash or destroy the clothing you wore during the assault
  • Try not disturb the physical environment where the assault occurred

Expectations of you

It is important that as part of the UQ community you respect others, and abide by the law.

The Student Charter gives these expectations.

Here are some examples of students crossing the line:

While walking near The Great Court, Joe observes a group of women cat-calling to men walking by. The women make a remark about Joe’s physical appearance as he passes them.

This behaviour would be dealt with as misconduct and the students’ cat-calling may be subject to disciplinary action under the Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy

On a Facebook page UQ students are debating an issue, one calls another a ‘slut’ (and other derogatory sexualized names) and says he will ‘sort her out’ next time he sees her on campus.

This behaviour would be dealt with as misconduct and the students may be subject to disciplinary action. See the Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy for further information.

After a party to celebrate the end of exams, Megan goes back to her friend’s share-house. She wakes up to find that her clothes have been removed and one of her friend’s housemates is having sex with her.

This is a criminal offence because consent cannot be given by an unconscious person. UQ would assist the student to report the matter to police, to access support services, and would act on police advice when considering disciplinary action against the student. Contact UQ Security on 3365 3333 in this instance.

You can help others stay safe by stepping in to prevent harm. As an active bystander you can make a difference. Read this how-to guide on stepping up against sexist behaviour.

Definition of consent

Consent is freely and voluntarily given by a person with the cognitive capacity to do so. Consent is not freely and voluntarily given if you:

  • Are under force
  • Are unconscious or asleep
  • Are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Are under threat or intimidation
  • Are in fear of bodily harm; or
  • Have a mistaken belief that the offender was your sexual partner.

(sourced from Queensland Police Service, 2016)


Understand Consent - watch ‘Consent. It’s as simple as tea.’


How to help someone who has experienced sexual assault

When someone experiences sexual violence, the people they choose to talk to about it play a vital role. It can be difficult to know how to respond and you may be concerned about doing the wrong thing. Visit 1800 Respect for information on what you can do.

If the victim/survivor wishes to report the matter to the University there are a range of services available to help:


  • 1 in 5 women in Australia will experience sexual assault at some time in their life.
  • 70% of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.
  • Less than 1 in 5 of those who experience sexual assault will report the crime to the Police.

(Sourced: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Personal Safety Survey. 2005; NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics; NSW Rape Crisis Centre).

National sexual assault survey: Respect. Now. Always.

Australia’s universities have asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to conduct a survey of university students to gain greater insight into the nature, prevalence and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment. This is the first time a national survey of this kind has been conducted, and the results will enhance UQ’s ability to prevent and address sexual assault and harassment.

The Respect. Now. Always. national university student survey has two elements. The first is a national prevalence survey, and students will be randomly selected via their student email to take part (with anonymity assured). Secondly, any university student who does not receive an email as part of the random selection, but who wishes to share their experiences can do so confidentially via the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

This survey will provide UQ (and other Australian universities) with data to help improve policies, procedures and support services for students who have experienced sexual assault and harassment.