Respect. Now. Always. support
Macquarie University is committed to better preventing and responding to incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment, and to providing access to support.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment, you will find a range of useful information on this page about confidential counselling, medical support, reporting, complaint options, and external services.
These options may help you to feel safe and supported.
Crisis support (24/7)
Police and Ambulance services (immediate safety and medical concerns) – 000
NSW Rape Crisis Centre (sexual assault counselling and information) – 1800 424 017
Macquarie University Security (on-campus emergency) – (02) 9850 9999
Macquarie University support
If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment, or if you are supporting a person who has been affected, you can contact:
External support services
Below you will find a list of services off campus, which can offer you support, counselling and information.
(02) 9926 7111
Forensic and counselling service for adult victims of sexual assault
(02) 9812 3944
Bulk billing is available to students, pensioners, healthcare card holders and staff of Macquarie University Hospital. Most international student health cover is accepted.
(02) 9858 7888
Emergency department available
(02) 9926 7111
Emergency department available
Sexual assault counselling and information
1800 737 732
Counselling is available 24/7, whether you're seeking help for yourself, a friend or relative, a colleague or a client. Professionals are also encouraged to use 1800RESPECT for support with secondary referrals or vicarious trauma. North Sydney Sexual Assault Services (02) 9462 9477 Forensic and counselling service for adult victims of sexual assault.
1800 424 017
24/7 telephone and online crisis counselling service for anyone in NSW - men and women - who has experienced or is at risk of sexual assault and their non-offending supporters. This support service is provided by Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia.
1800 211 028
A national counselling service for anyone who is involved in or considering participating in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Sexual Assault Counselling Australia also provides counselling for people who want to address their trauma as a result of hearing about the Royal Commission, and anyone who is supporting someone who is participating in the Royal Commission.
(02) 8585 0333
A network of Aboriginal women from all parts of New South Wales, who are committed to working to prevent sexual assault in their communities.
Counselling and information
(02) 9718 1955
Specialist counselling service supporting women affected by trauma.
1300 78 99 78
A professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men.
1800 472 676
A not-for-profit organisation working to increase public awareness of the effects that childhood sexual abuse can have on men in their adult lives.
1800 184 527
Australia’s first nationally-oriented counselling and referral service for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and/or queer (LGBTIQ). Online and phone counselling available.
(02) 8594 9555
Sydney based service providing a broad range of specialised services for young people 12-25 including housing, mental health, counselling and social support, who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse, non-binary, intersex, questioning, queer, asexual and more (LGBTIQA+)
13 11 14
Online, phone and face-to-face crisis support and suicide prevention services.
1300 224 636
Provides information and support to help everyone in Australia experiencing anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Below you will find information which will support you to make the best decision for yourself, or the person you are supporting.
What is sexual assault and sexual harassment?
Sexual assault is any sexual or sexualised act that has not been consented to, agreed upon, invited, or chosen. It is a betrayal of trust and a denial of each person’s right to determine what happens to their body. Sexual assault can be committed against people regardless of their gender, age, sexual orientation, ability, and background. Sexual assault is sometimes referred to as rape, sexual abuse or sexual violence.
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It is not sexual interaction, flirtation or friendship which is mutual or consensual. Sexual harassment might include:
- Discussions of a sexual nature or graphic sexual description
- Sexual innuendos, slurs, jokes and comments
- Asking personal questions about a person’s sex life or body
- Repeated unwanted requests for sex and/or dates
- Lewd gestures such as hand signs to indicate sexual activity
- Displaying or distributing sexually suggestive visuals including pictures, calendars, posters, or sexually explicit materials such as videos or text
- Inappropriate touching such as patting, pinching, stroking or brushing up against the body
- Touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person, or exposing yourself
Please refer to our Discrimination, Bullying and Harassment Prevention Policy and Student Code of Conduct for further information.
What is consent?
Consent is when a person freely and voluntarily agrees to sexual activity. Sexual assault occurs when someone is unable to and/or does not give consent. Consent is not always verbal, but must be given before people engage in any sexual activity. The legal age of consent in NSW is 16 years old, regardless of gender.
The law says that a person may be unable to give consent when:
- Asleep or unconscious
- Significantly intoxicated or affected by drugs
- Unable to understand consent due to their age or intellectual capacity
- Intimidated, coerced or threatened
- Unlawfully detained or held against their will
- There is abuse of power or a position of trust
- The law requires the alleged perpetrator to demonstrate what steps they took to ensure consent was given.
For further explanation of consent, you can watch this video:
When to report sexual assault or sexual harassment
Reporting sexual assault or sexual harassment early can be beneficial, though you can report sexual assault or sexual harassment at any time. When you report the incident, you will speak with someone who can offer you access to support and information, and discuss options with you.
Counselling services provide support to people who have experienced sexual assault at any time in their life. It is never too late to seek support.
How to report sexual assault or sexual harassment
If you have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment, you are encouraged to report it so that you can get the support and information you need.
You can report the incident to the university by speaking with someone at Campus Wellbeing, who can give you information about your options including counselling, safety plans, accommodation issues and Special Consideration. You can call them on (02) 9850 7497, send an email to email@example.com or visit them on level 2, building C8A.
You can report the incident to the university be calling Security and telling them what has happened on (02) 9850 7112 or (02) 9850 9999 (emergency response).
You can report sexual assault to the police, who will ask you about the incident and discuss the possibility of a criminal investigation. You have the option of contacting your nearest Police Station, or you can complete a Sexual Assault Reporting Options (SARO) questionnaire.
You can report concerning and threatening behaviour to the university (including sexual harassment, threats, stalking and violence) by filling out our online form.
How to make a complaint to the university
You can contact Student Support and Advocacy (02 9850 7497 or firstname.lastname@example.org) who can help you make a complaint, and link you into support.
How can you help someone who has experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment?
The first response to a person who tells you they have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment is critical to their wellbeing, recovery and decision-making. Decisions should not be made for the person who has shared this information with you. Rather, they should be referred to Campus Wellbeing or 1800 MQ CARE, and the information on this website.
If there is an immediate risk to health and safety, action should be taken.
In an emergency, contact any of the following:
Police and Ambulance Services (immediate safety and medical concerns) – 000
1800 RESPECT (sexual assault counselling and information) – 1800 737 732
Macquarie University Security (on campus emergency)– (02) 9850 9999
How should I respond?
Your response should focus on supporting the person to get the help they need. It is important to be supportive and non-judgemental, and here are some simple actions you can take:
- Listen to and acknowledge the person’s disclosure
- Recognise how difficult it is for a person to disclose
- Affirm that it was not their fault – perpetrators are responsible for their own actions
- Be supportive and encouraging
- Walk the student to Campus Wellbeing, if appropriate
If someone discloses their experience of sexual assault or sexual harassment, it is important to respect their confidentiality. While there may be a need to discuss the disclosure with other people – including University counsellors and security, or an external support service – you should be mindful of limiting the number of people who are made aware of the disclosure.
What should I avoid doing?
Actions you should avoid include:
- Asking questions such as “What were you wearing or doing?” and “Did you flirt with them?” – this may come across a blame, and prevent the person from feeling safe
- Trying to “fix” the problem for them - and it is important that they receive the support from a qualified professional
- Touching the person – someone who has been sexually assaulted may find physical contact difficult and may not want to be touched, so you should respect their wishes.
Remember, your response should focus on supporting the person to get the help they need. Being non-judgemental and supportive reminds them that seeking support is the right thing to do.
Where to refer someone for support?
It is critical that people who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment are given access to appropriate support. Unless you are a clinical psychologist, it is inappropriate for you to personally offer counseling or advice.
When someone discloses to you, encourage them to access on and off campus support. A good question to ask is “What kind of support do you need right now?”.
Specialist sexual assault counseling services also talk to people about the options available to them, and provide this information to anyone supporting a person who has experienced a sexual assault:
1800 737 732
Counselling is available 24/7, whether you're seeking help for yourself, a friend or relative, a colleague or a client. Professionals are also encouraged to use 1800RESPECT for support with secondary referrals or vicarious trauma.
(02) 9462 9477
Forensic and counselling service for adult victims of sexual assault.
1800 424 017
24/7 telephone and online crisis counselling service for anyone in NSW - men and women - who has experienced or is at risk of sexual assault and their non-offending supporters.
Keeping a record
Should a criminal investigation or internal discipline process take place following the disclosure, anyone involved may be called to give evidence. Notes and documents may also form evidence. Every effort should be made to ensure that written records are clear, accurate and appropriate.
However, keep in mind that you are not investigating or gathering evidence. You are simply recording the things you are told and what you observed.
Following a disclosure, you should consider recording the following:
- Name of the person disclosing
- Time and date of disclosure
- Time, date and location of the incident
- Brief description of disclosure
How can someone’s disclosure impact on me?
It is important to look after yourself. Exposure to a person’s experience of trauma may impact upon your own mental and physical wellbeing – this is known as vicarious trauma.
Counselling services which support people who have experienced sexual assault or sexual harassment also provide support to their family, friends, colleagues, and those who recieve a disclosure. If you find someone’s dislcosure has impacted on your wellbeing, then you are encouraged to contact a support service.
1800 RESPECT – Rape & Domestic Violence Service Australia (1800 737 732) provide support to friends, relatives, colleagues and professionals dealing with vicarious trauma.
If you are a staff member, you are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is a free confidential counselling, coaching and wellbeing service. The EAP service is provided 24/7 by Davidson Trahaire Corpsych (DTC).
Call DTC on 1300 360 364 or log in to eapdirect® for online support.
What are the effects of sexual assault and sexual harassment?
Sexual assault and sexual harassment affects everyone differently, but often includes physical and emotional trauma. These impacts can be severe and long-lasting, and may affect a person’s ability to study, work, socialise and maintain relationships. The effects of sexual assault and sexual harassment can also impact upon friends, family members and loved ones, as well as fellow students and staff.
The possible effects of sexual assault and sexual harassment include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating on simple tasks
- Mood swings and angry outbursts
- Hyper-vigilance – feeling that your surroundings are always unsafe
- Avoiding or disengaging from social activities
- Intrusive thoughts, recurrent dreams, or flashbacks
- Feeling isolated
- Self-harming, suicidal ideation
How can you prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment at Macquarie University?
By championing a cultural change project under the name of Respect. Now. Always. Macquarie University aims to improve our capacity to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment. All staff and students share a responsibility to play the role of an active bystander against all forms of sexual assault and sexual harassment when safe to do so. An active bystander is someone who becomes aware of a situation where sexual assault and sexual harassment has the potential to occur, is occurring or has occurred, and intervenes or takes action in response. Actions that you can take include:
- Contact emergency response services to intervene (Police – 000 or Campus Security – (02) 9850 9999)
- Speak out against sexual assault or sexual harassment, when safe to do so
- Recognise and address situations which have the potential for sexual assault or sexual harassment
- Challenge attitudes and language that promote sexual assault or sexual harassment – particularly in the classroom or workplace
- Support people who have been affected by sexual assault or sexual harassment
- Lead by example – we all have a responsibility in making Macquarie University a safe place for all to work and study
For more information on the Respect. Now. Always. project, visit the project page.