Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment

    What is it?

    Sexual assault is any behaviour of a sexual nature that is unwanted and makes you feel uncomfortable, frightened or threatened. It is sexual activity to which a person does not consent.

    Examples of sexual assault include:

    • Unwanted touching of any sort, under or over your clothing
    • Stealthing: taking off a condom before or during sex, without your permission
    • Sexual coercion: when someone pressures or tricks you into doing sexual things that you do not want to do
    • Stalking: when someone continually follows or watches you
    • Someone looking at you without your permission, while you are naked or being intimate with someone
    • When someone shows you private parts of their body without your consent
    • Being coerced into watching or participating in pornography. This may include taking a picture of you without your permission, forcing you to appear in a video or making you watch a pornographic movie
    • Image-based abuse (IBA): sharing or threatening to share naked, intimate or sexual images of you without your consent or sending you naked, intimate or sexual images you don’t want to receive.
    • You have a right to choose how and with whom you wish to be sexually intimate. Forcing you to participate in any of these activities is not ok. We encourage you to seek support if it has happened to you.

    Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual behaviour which might offend, humiliate or intimidate.

    Examples of sexual harassment include:

    • Sexual advances, such as unwelcome touching, staring, cat-calling, or unwanted requests to go on dates.
    • Requests for sexual favour, which can include suggestive jokes.
    • Sexual behaviour aimed at you or in your presence. This could include unwelcome gestures, actions or comments of a sexual nature. These can be spoken, in writing, including text messaging and social media; intrusive questions about your private life; and physical gestures.

    The impact it has

    There is no right or wrong way to react to an experience of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

    Those that have experienced sexual assault may feel they are to blame in some way.


    This is never about you; the things you said or didn’t say; the things you wore; what you drank or took; whether the person was someone you did or didn’t know or someone you had previously had sex with; where you visited, where you socialised; or the street or path you walked upon.

    • You have the right to determine what happens to, and with your body.
    • You have the right to a safe space to learn; to live in, and to enjoy.
    • You have the right to change your mind about any intimate act.

    It is normal to feel effects from this type of experience in your body, mind, emotions, interactions with others, and in your beliefs about yourself and the world. Seeking support can help you navigate this process.

    What we can do about it?

    Prevent it

    Good, fun, pleasurable sex is all about consent. When it comes to sex, you must always ask for, and hear, an enthusiastic yes. Yes for one thing doesn’t mean yes for something else. Yes mean yes for that question alone.

    Anyone can change their mind at any time during sex or an intimate act. You have the right to say no.

    Just because you said yes once doesn’t mean the same act or activity is always welcomed or wanted. Yes is for that specific moment only.

    REMEMBER: A person is unable to give consent when:

    • they are intoxicated, asleep or unconscious;
    • They are unable to understand what they are consenting to;
    • they surrender from fear, threat, or force of harm to themselves or someone else.

    Even if a person does not protest or physically resist, it does not mean they have given their consent.

    Consent must be an enthusiastic yes every time.

    If you experience it

    Seek support. You will be heard, you will be believed, you will not be blamed. There is no time limit to when you can seek support or report an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

    Support and advice is available at the University of Newcastle for both domestic and international students. Translation services are available.

    • Campus Care: 4921 8600
    • Counselling
    • UON out-of-hours crisis support line: Phone: 1300 653 007; or SMS (chat option) 0488 884 165
    Support through external services for both domestic and international students
    • NSW Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 424 017
    • Reporting at UON
    • Campus Care: 4921 8600
    In an Emergency

    Always dial 000 (Triple Zero) in an emergency

    Security Services
    • Callaghan (02) 4921 5888 Newcastle City Campus (02) 4921 7962
    • Ourimbah Campus (Central Coast) (02) 4348 4222
    • Port Macquarie Campus 0412 595 054
    • Sydney Campus (02) 8262 6488
    Reporting Externally

    You can make an informal or formal report to NSW police 131 444

    UON can support you through this process. Translation services are available.

    If you see it or someone tells you about their experience

    Sexual assault and sexual harassment cover a wide range of behaviours, some of them you may witness yourself.

    If you see it and have identified it is a problem

    • Get help. Remember to consider everyone’s safety. Getting help from staff or security may be the best option. If you live on campus you can contact Student Living for assistance 24/7 on 4913 8888
    • You can act: There are a number of ways you could respond. If it is safe to do so, ask the person experiencing the behaviour if they are ok, or go to them after the incident letting them know you don’t agree with what happened.
    • Call the behaviour out. Let them know that behaviour is not ok, or question what they meant by what they said.

    If someone tells you they have experienced an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment

    If someone discloses an incident of sexual harassment or sexual assault to you it may be difficult to know what to say or do. The University has the resources to help you through the initial contact and to provide ongoing support, as well as the systems to ensure you are okay afterwards as well.

    What to do when someone discloses sexual harassment or sexual assault to you
    • Find an appropriate space to talk
    • Establish safety. Is there an immediate threat to them or anyone else? Call Security if needed.
    • Listen and show empathy. It is not necessary to ask lots of questions or details. Helpful phrases may include: I believe you. This is not your fault. Would you like me to help you get connected to services?
    • Tap into support services for yourself as well as the victim/survivor.

    Find out more about supporting someone else.

    Referral points

    Acknowledgements to Redfern Legal Centre and Youth Law Australia.

    Resources For students and staff

    The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.