Important information for staff and students of UON about supporting someone who discloses sexual misconduct, assault or harassment

Supporting someone

Important steps for when someone discloses sexual misconduct

  • Find an appropriate space

Take the survivor to an appropriate space to hear their disclosure. This means finding a space where the survivor feels comfortable so that you can talk confidentially.

  • Establish safety

Identify whether there is an immediate threat to the survivor. If you determine there is an immediate danger from the alleged perpetrator or the survivor needs immediate medical attention then contact Security ((02) 49215888) or NSW Police (000).

  • Listen and show empathy

When someone makes a disclosure about sexual misconduct, the first response is often critical in their recovery and decisions about what to do next. Your role is to assist them to access the services they require and support the decisions that they make.

When listening there are three key messages to give:

  • I believe you.
  • This is not your fault.
  • Let's get you connected with specialised support.

At this stage you can offer to support the survivor to consider their options for reporting and support. It is important to confirm that you believe them and will help them access services that they might need. You may wish to show them this webpage, or contact Campus Care for advice.

It is possible, if the survivor reports the incident to the police, that the Police may contact you for information disclosed to you by the survivor. It is therefore vital to record details of the conversation rather than rely on your memory alone. It is essential you write everything down, using the survivor’s own words as best you can. It may be insensitive to write while the survivor is talking to you, but it is important to document the conversation as soon as appropriately possible. It is not necessary or advisable to ask details about what happened. This will be done by a trained professional if the survivor choses to make a report.

  • Provide support options

Discuss the support and reporting options available to the survivor. As a student or a staff member receiving a disclosure, it is important to make sure that the survivor has access to any support services or resources that might be helpful, including information about how to report the matter. Campus Care is a key contact for you and the survivor.

  • Practice self care

If someone you are close to experiences or discloses sexually based assault or harassment , this can have a significant impact on you. You may experience vicarious trauma, guilt, anger, or changes in your beliefs about the world.  After you have assisted the person who has experienced the sexual assault, it is important that you have your own strategies and support to make sure that you are ok. If needed, you can call the Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia 24 hour phone line to debrief or for advice. You can also access counselling or mental health services via referral from your GP.

UON is committed to providing evidence-based training to appropriately respond to a disclosure of sexual assault. All staff are able to access online training for Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence. The four module course is written by a team with specialist experience in responding to sexual violence. It features interactive activities, scenario-based activities, interviews and video role plays with professionals trained in responding to disclosures. You can access this training through the UON Discover Training portal.

Contact Campus Care for any special accessibility or language translation need you may have.