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How to report sexual misconduct

How to make a complaint or disclosure of sexual misconduct to the University
When you report sexual misconduct to the University, specialist staff will provide support and work with you to assess your needs and take appropriate actions.

The University is committed to handling reports of sexual misconduct in a compassionate and fair manner, in an environment that acknowledges the vulnerable position of survivors and treats them with respect and dignity.

If you have experienced sexual misconduct, including sexual assault or sexual harassment, it is your choice whether to report the incident. You can make a report to local police and you also have the option to report it to the University. Whatever you decide, we can help connect you with appropriate support, provide information on reporting options, and assist you with the reporting process.

If you would like to speak to someone from the University, you can call:

  • The Safer Communities Office confidential helpline service on +61 2 8627 6808 from 8.30 am – 5.30 pm, Monday to Friday
  • 1800 SYD HLP (1800 793 457 -option 2, then option 1) from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday.

If you call outside of these hours you can be connected to NSW Rape Crisis Centre, or call them directly on 1800 424 017.

If you need urgent medical assistance or other help, please contact emergency services on 000 or present to your local hospital emergency department. 

View a list of other external support services.

If you are a student, visit the Student Website for more information about sexual misconduct or to learn more about consent healthy sexual relationships.

How we will support you

Your personal safety and recovery from the trauma of sexual misconduct is our first priority.

The Safer Communities Office has specialist staff members with expertise in providing support to people that have experienced sexual misconduct. They can assist you to access and navigate appropriate internal and external support services, including security, counseling and health services, and on-campus emergency accommodation.

You can organise an appointment with the Safer Communities Office to discuss what support you may need.

Contact the Safer Communities Office

We are available from 8.30 am-5.30 pm, Monday to Friday.

Phone

+61 2 8627 6808 or 1800 SYD HLP (1800 793 457) (option 2, then option 1) from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Email

safer-communities.officer@sydney.edu.au

In-person:

You can also arrange an appointment with the Safer Communities Office by contacting us using the details listed above.

Options when reporting an incident

If you choose to report an incident to the University, you have the option to either make a disclosure or a complaint. The primary way to do this is through an online form, or by contacting the Safer Communities Office directly (details above).

The Safer Communities Office can provide you with information about making a report if you are unsure what to do.

If you report an incident, it will not affect your academic record in any way. If you are an international student, your visa will not be affected.

Difference between a complaint and a disclosure

You can make a complaint of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault or sexual harassment, if you would like the University to investigate or to take specific action and the complaint is about University related conduct, including conduct by students, staff members or affiliates. University related conduct means any conduct that is connected to the University, including conduct that occurs on University lands, at or in connection with a Residential College or University owned or affiliated student accommodation, when performing duties for or representing the University, or during a University related function or event (whether sanctioned or organised by the University or not).

We can only take steps to respond to your complaint (such as taking disciplinary action against a student, staff member or affiliate) when you make a complaint (rather than a disclosure). We may also take interim measures if we need to, such as restricting a person’s access to specified University buildings, facilities or accommodation, to ensure your safety or the safety of others.

When you make a complaint to the University, we will ask you for information including details of the person involved in the incident. If you have difficulty disclosing this information, you can call us to discuss your options and support services available. If a complaint results in an investigation, the University is required to apply the principles of procedural fairness to everyone involved.

You can make a disclosure (rather than a complaint) if you would like to make the University aware of an incident, but do not wish the University to investigate or to take any specific action in response to the incident. We understand that this can be a difficult time, so this is a way to report something that’s happened and find out your options for support without needing to provide your personal details. 

In some circumstances, we may need to investigate a disclosure, to ensure your safety or the safety of other members of the University community, or to meet our legal obligations.  If you provide your contact details, we will inform you before commencing an investigation.

If you make a disclosure, you can still choose to make a complaint to the University about the same incident at a later time.

Making a report online

Use one of our online forms to make your report. Each form is unique, depending on whether you are a student, staff member or a member of the public, and whether you want to make a disclosure or a complaint. Be sure to select the correct form for your needs. If you are unsure, contact the Safer Communities Office.

Go to the online forms.

How your report will be managed

After you submit your report, a unique reference number will be automatically generated... You should make a note of your reference number in case you would like to follow up on your report, or add any further details later on. You can do this by emailing safer-communities.officer@sydney.edu.au with your reference number in the subject line.

If you decide not to provide contact details in your report, the reference number is the only communication you will receive from the University.

If you provide your contact details in your report, the Safer Communities Office will contact you, usually within the next business day. This may not be possible in some situations, or during the University close-down period in December/January.

If you have not received an email acknowledgment within 72 hours of making your report, please email us at safer-communities.officer@sydney.edu.au and provide the reference number you received when you reported the incident.

If you need urgent medical assistance or other help, please contact emergency services on 000 or present to your local hospital emergency department. 

Your information

Your disclosure or complaint will be recorded in a confidential part of the University’s record keeping system. Only a few specialist staff have access to this confidential part of the system, and they will be notified once your report is received. These reports are not linked in any way to your academic record (if you are a student) or immigration status (if you are an international student) or your employee file (if you are a staff member).

If you provide your contact details in your disclosure or complaint, the Safer Communities Office will contact you, usually within the next business day. The Safer Communities Office has expertise in providing support to people that have experienced sexual misconduct. They can discuss support options with you and any questions or concerns you may have. They can also assist you to liaise with other departments within the University to make adjustments to your study or workplace that might assist you.

If you are a student and you decide to proceed with a complaint, it will be forwarded to the Student Affairs Unit for preliminary assessment. If your complaint relates to the conduct of a staff member or affiliate, the Student Affairs Unit will refer it to Workplace Relations for a preliminary assessment. The purpose of a preliminary assessment is to assess how a complaint should be progressed. The Safer Communities Office will provide support and work with you and the Student Affairs Unit and/or Workplace Relations to ensure you understand the complaint process.

If you are a staff member or affiliate and you decide to proceed with a complaint, it will be forwarded to Workplace Relations for preliminary assessment. If your complaint relates to the conduct of a student, Workplace Relations will refer it to the Student Affairs Unit for a preliminary assessment. The purpose of a preliminary assessment is to assess how a complaint should be progressed. The Safer Communities Office will provide support and work with you and Workplace Relations and/or the Student Affairs Unit to ensure you understand the complaint process.

If you are a member of the public and you decide to proceed with a complaint, it will be received by the Safer Communities Office and forwarded to the most appropriate work area for resolution.  This is likely to be Workplace Relations if your complaint is about a staff member or affiliate, or the Student Affairs Unit if your complaint is about a student.

In some limited circumstances, the University may need to report an incident of sexual assault or sexual touching to the police, to ensure your safety, the safety of other members of the University community, or to meet its legal obligations. The University will inform you before it reports an incident of sexual assault to the Police. The form allows you to express your wishes regarding reporting to the police.

Making a disclosure or a complaint online to the University is voluntary, however some fields in the form require a response in order for us to assist you. The information provided will enable specialist staff at the University to understand your needs and provide support, if you wish. If you do not provide the information requested, the University may not be able to provide this support or respond to your report.

You have the right to access and correct personal information about you held by the University.  If you have any questions or concerns about access or correction, or about using the forms, please contact the Safer Communities Office on 8627 6808 or at safer-communities.officer@sydney.edu.au.

The information you provide when making a disclosure or complaint will be used:

  • to create a record of your report
  • to enable us to contact you to acknowledge your report and to provide information and referrals to support services, where desired
  • to respond to your complaint, including, where appropriate, to enable us to conduct a preliminary assessment and investigation in accordance with University policy and procedures
  • where appropriate and necessary, to report an incident of sexual assault or sexual touching to the Police
  • on a de-identified basis to identify trends and develop targeted responses to sexual misconduct in the University community.

The following University of Sydney staff will have access to the information provided in your report:

  • Safer Communities Office staff (specialist staff with expertise in the area of sexual misconduct)
  • Student Affairs Unit staff and Workplace Relations staff (specialist staff with expertise in handling complaints relating to student and staff misconduct, respectively)
  • Office of General Counsel staff (specialist staff with responsibility for providing legal advice to the University)
  • system administration staff of the Archives and Records Management Services team.

Disclosure of information is the action of providing a person or organisation outside the University with access to, or a copy of, information. The University will not disclose the information you provide except:

  • with your express consent
  • where required or authorised by law
  • if the University reasonably believes that disclosure is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the life or health of any person, including you.

In some limited circumstances, the University may need to report an incident of sexual assault to the NSW Police, to ensure your safety or the safety of other members of the University community, or to meet its legal obligations. The University will inform you before it reports an incident of sexual assault to the police. The form allows you to express your wishes regarding reporting to the police.

Reporting an incident to the police

In an emergency, contact emergency services by dialing triple zero (000).

Report to local police

Whether the sexual misconduct took place on or off-campus, you can make a report to your local police station. You can call in advance and ask to make a report to a detective. You can also ask to speak to a staff member who is specifically trained in responding to sexual assault or sexual touching.

SARO questionnaire

If you want to provide information to the police but don’t want to proceed with a formal investigation, you can provide details of the incident by completing the sexual assault reporting option (SARO) questionnaire (pdf, 1316KB). This can be done anonymously if you choose, but there will be no response if you remain anonymous.

The questionnaire does ask for details about the incident. We recommend that you have a friend with you to help you, as providing this information may be distressing for you.

The questionnaire may be used to assist police to develop strategies that target offenders and protect the community.

You can find more information on the reporting options available and what to expect from the NSW Police website.