FAQ for Reporting Sexual Misconduct

Here you can find answers to frequently asked questions about the sexual misconduct portal. If you have a specific query you can also email reportsexualmisconduct@unsw.edu.au

Definitions. What is assault, harassment...?

Sexual misconduct is a term used by UNSW to describe behaviour of a sexual nature which is unacceptable. Sexual misconduct is a broad term, encompassing various types of conduct. Sexual misconduct can involve behaviour by a person of any gender, and it can occur between people of the same or different genders.

Read more detailed definitions of sexual misconduct, assault, harassment...

How is privacy maintained?

The personal information about you and any other person mentioned in your report will be held, stored, used and disclosed by us solely for the following purposes and in the following ways:

  • To keep a record of your report
  • To enable us to contact you to acknowledge your report and to provide information and possible referrals to support services
  • Where appropriate, to enable us to commence a misconduct assessment and investigation under a UNSW Procedure in relation to a current UNSW staff member or student
  • Where appropriate and necessary, to report to the Police or to a NSW Government agency such as the Department of Family & Community Services
  • To enable us to understand and respond to the risk of sexual misconduct at UNSW.

By "personal information" we mean information that names a person, or from which the identity of a person can be worked out.

Data collected through the portal will also be aggregated and may be published by UNSW in internal reports to assist UNSW to identify areas or activities of heightened risk and take measures to reduce the incidence of sexual misconduct at UNSW. Aggregated information does not identify individuals and does not include personal information.

PRIVACY COLLECTION NOTICE

Where you have provided your name or names of other individuals in this report, all information concerning yourself and the named individuals is personal information for the purposes of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW).

The University is collecting this personal information from you for the purpose of providing support services, letting you know what options are available, and for taking such actions it considers necessary.  The privacy and confidentiality of the personal information collected will be respected, however the University may disclose personal information to lessen or prevent a serious and imminent threat to the life or health of any individual.  In addition, where the University has reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offence has been committed then personal information may be disclosed to the appropriate law enforcement agency.  Personal information may also be disclosed when the University is authorised or required by law to disclose such information e.g. if the University becomes aware of a serious crime in New South Wales, or receives a Court order requiring disclosure.

Personal information collected about individuals other than yourself and without their consent can only be used by the University in accordance with University policies or procedures (e.g. Student Misconduct Procedure, Student Complaint Procedure etc.).

The following UNSW staff will have access to the information provided in your report:

  • selected staff within the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Inclusion and Diversity and
  • UNSW Response team members who provide triaging for the reports (this is a small team of less than 5 people who are personally selected by the DVC Inclusion and Diversity).

Depending on the nature of the incident the report may be directed to a responsible business unit contact for follow up. Such other business unit contacts include:

  • Head of Counselling and Psychological Services,
  • Director of Health Services,
  • Director of Student Integrity,
  • Employee Relations Manager in HR

The supply of your personal information is voluntary, however the University may not be able to provide the appropriate service, or take the any actions, unless you supply this personal information.

All individuals named in a report submitted to this portal will have the right of access to personal information held about them by the University and the right to request correction and amendment of it.

The University handles personal information in accordance with the UNSW Privacy Management Plan, which is available from https://www.legal.unsw.edu.au/compliance/privacy/mgtplan.html.


Answer to FAQs

1. How can I report sexual misconduct at UNSW?

UNSW has established an online reporting portal to allow staff and students of UNSW to report an incident of sexual misconduct which has happened to them. The portal can also be used to report an incident which has happened to someone else (for example, where you have witnessed an incident, or you are reporting on behalf of a friend or colleague). If you are reporting on behalf of another person, you must have their consent before you do so. However, if you have witnessed an incident and you don’t know the name of the person involved so you can’t seek their consent, you may report the incident.

2. Can I make an anonymous report to the Portal?

YES. You control what information you provide to us. You can use the portal when you want to ensure that the University is aware that an incident happened, but you don’t want to share your name. If you choose to make an anonymous report, we are limited in the follow-up action we can take. For example, the University is unlikely to commence a formal investigation based upon an anonymous report. However, if a number of anonymous reports highlight particular activities or areas of risk, the University may take steps to reduce the risk of further incidents occurring.

3. Who can report?

You don't have to be a UNSW student or staff member to make a report on the portal. A person making a report might be a victim of an incident, a witness to an incident or a support person, family member or friend of a victim or witness. However, where you are reporting something which happened to another person whom you identify in the report, you must have the consent of that person before you report an incident about them on their behalf.

4. What is the benefit in reporting a 'past' incident and what does 'past' mean?

The portal may be used to report incidents which are not recent. There is no uniformly accepted “normal” reaction to having experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct.  Each person’s reaction is an individual one.  Many people wait for years before they feel able to disclose an incident to someone.

UNSW cannot investigate incidents which are not connected to UNSW and there may be limits on our ability to investigate if the incident occurred in the past. However, even where UNSW cannot investigate, we will do our best to assist with referrals and information to help our students and staff.

5. Where do portal reports go?

Reports made to this portal are delivered into a confidential shared mailbox that is administered by the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Inclusion and Diversity). All reports are treated as confidential and will be managed as set out at Question 6 and Question 9 (below).

6. How will portal reports be managed by UNSW?

Once the submit button is pressed, every report, including those submitted anonymously, will receive an immediate automatic acknowledgement which includes a unique submission ID. This ID number should be used in any further follow up queries. This is the only response a person who submitted an anonymous report will receive; the system has no way of identifying you or contacting you through this submission ID number alone.

If you DO identify yourself in the report and supply contact details, you will receive follow up communication from the UNSW response team by the next working day by the preferred method you have indicated on the report (e.g. email or phone call).

After consultation with the person making the report, the UNSW response team may provide you with referral details to other appropriate areas within UNSW e.g. Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Health Services, Education Support Service, HR, ARC legal services or a union such as the NTEU. We may also suggest contacting external specialist support services like sexual assault services, external medical services and counsellors.

In some circumstances, the University has a legal duty to inform the Police about a reported incident. This is the case where the University has significant information about the possible committing of a serious crime in New South Wales (meaning a crime punishable by a prison term of at least 5 years). You will be consulted wherever possible prior to any Police notification in relation to your report. See also Q 13.

Complaints or allegations of sexual misconduct against students of UNSW will be addressed in accordance with the UNSW Student Misconduct Procedure. Complaints or allegations against UNSW staff will be addressed in accordance with the UNSW Staff Complaints Procedure and the UNSW Enterprise Agreements (there are two Agreements, one for academic staff, and one for professional staff)

7. Can I contact someone at UNSW rather than using the portal?

YES. There are a number of services and people who can support you. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or you are unwell, and need to speak with someone immediately, you can contact CAPS or the Health Service (if you are able to attend the Kensington campus), and if you are a staff member, you can contact the Employee Assistance Program.

8. How can I make contact with a ‘First Responder’?

First Responders are staff and students of UNSW who have been trained in acting as first responders in cases of sexual misconduct. If you email reportsexualmisconduct@unsw.edu.au you can enquire as to who would be the most relevant first responder for your case and a response, with the contact details of the most appropriate first responder for you, will be provided. This email exchange can occur anonymously. Initial contact with a first responder can be by email, by phone or in person. We will include a link to trained first responders who have: volunteered their services; received first responder training; and have provided their contact details and permission on this webpage as more staff and students receive this training.

9. When will I get a response to my portal report?

Our aim is to provide a response by the preferred method you have indicated on the report (provided you have supplied your contact details) within 24 hours.  Sometimes that will not be possible: for example, if a report is made on a Friday, or during the University shut down period in December.

If you have made a report but you have not received an email acknowledgement within 72 hours, please email: reportsexualmisconduct@unsw.edu.au

(Please quote the submission ID you received when making the report through the portal).

It is very important that, where urgent medical or other help is needed, you do not wait for a response to a report made to the portal.  It may, for example, be important to contact the Police, or an ambulance, immediately after a serious incident occurs.  See ‘where to get more support' on this webpage.

10. What are some of the potential outcomes from reporting?

What happens after you report an incident of sexual misconduct to UNSW depends on a few things:

  • Whether the person reporting has supplied contact details
  • The nature of the incident
  • What action or support the person reporting the incident is seeking

Some examples of potential outcomes that could occur (as long as we have your contact details) are listed below.

Examples where complainant is a student

Outcomes: Provide support

  • A confidential discussion with a first responder
  • Contact from a UNSW Counsellor
  • Advice to consult a Doctor (who could be the person’s  own Doctor (GP), someone in the University Health Service or a local hospital accident and emergency service)
  • Conversation about accessing a specialist sexual assault service and what that would involve
  • Where there are concerns about academic matters such as assessments or exams, advice about how to seek special consideration (if applicable)
  • Where the other person involved in the incident is a UNSW student or staff member, ways to manage activities at the University while any investigation takes place

Examples if complainant is staff member

Outcomes: Provide support

  • A confidential discussion with a first responder
  • Referral to a Doctor (who could be their own Doctor (GP), someone in the University Health Service or a local hospital accident and emergency service)
  • Conversation about accessing a specialist sexual assault service and what that would involve
  • Referral to an HR staff member
  • Referral to the Employee Assistance Program
  • Where the other person involved in the incident is a UNSW student or staff member, ways to manage activities at the University while any investigation takes place

Examples where complainant is either student or staff member

Outcomes: Dealing with alleged misconduct

  • Further discussion and investigation will be required to establish what happened
  • No UNSW misconduct procedure can be commenced if the person said to be responsible is not identified.  Where the person said to be responsible for sexual misconduct is identified (as a student or staff member of UNSW), the appropriate UNSW staff member will consider what the next steps should be.  This may involve contacting the Police. If the Police commence an investigation, UNSW will ordinarily not proceed with its own separate investigation until the outcome of the Police investigation (and, where applicable, any prosecution) is known.  This situation will not prevent UNSW from providing support as described above.
  • If the conduct is investigated and found to be misconduct or serious misconduct, there are a range of possible outcomes, depending on the seriousness of the conduct.  Proven conduct of the most serious kind would involve consideration of exclusion of a student from UNSW or termination of employment of a staff member.  Where a student in these circumstances is an overseas student, UNSW will have reporting obligations to the Department of Immigration.

11. Can a report be made directly to the police?

Yes. There are 2 ways to make a report of sexual misconduct to the police.

1. Contact your nearest police station and make a formal complaint

In an emergency dial 000.

The police can also be contacted on the Police Assistance Line:

2. Complete a sexual assault reporting option questionnaire

The purpose of completing a questionnaire is not to enable a criminal investigation to take place but it can help police to take measures to protect the community and reduce repeat offending.  Read information on the questionnaire here: Sexual Assault Reporting Options. It is important to note that the questionnaire does ask for detail about the incident.  If you decide to complete the questionnaire, it is highly recommended that you have a friend with you to help you.  Completing the questionnaire may be very distressing for you. 

12. Can I report to both UNSW AND to the police?

YES. You can report to both the police and to UNSW (whether via the portal or through contacting a First Responder, other staff member or student leader etc.).

13. If I make a report to the Portal will the University report my situation to anyone else?

There may be occasional situations where UNSW has a duty to inform the Police about a serious incident reported to it (See item 6 above). Where the Police commence an investigation, the University may need to wait to carry out any investigation, pending the outcome of police inquiries.  However, providing appropriate support, referrals and ensuring the safety of the person(s) affected will remain a priority for the University in all circumstances.

If the matter needs to be investigated under one of UNSW’s Procedures (e.g. the Student Complaint Procedure), all parties to the matter including the person alleged to be responsible for the sexual misconduct will be advised that the matter is being investigated.

While most of our students are over the age of 16, in exceptional cases there may be UNSW students who are under 16 years of age, and who are therefore considered to be children under the law. There may also be children on a UNSW campus who are not students – for example, children attending a UNSW Early Years Centre or the UNSW Health Service.  Under the law, there are obligations imposed upon certain types of professionals (for example, doctors, counsellors and child care workers) to notify relevant Government Departments and/or the Police where there are concerns that a child is experiencing, or is at risk of, sexual abuse.

More information is available on this Fact Sheet from the Australian Government: Child Family Community Australia for further information.

Where a staff member is accused of an incident of a more serious and/or unlawful nature it would be likely that the process outlined in the Enterprise Agreement for dealing with allegations of misconduct/serious misconduct would be activated.

14. Do I have to report to the police?

The University respects the right of individuals to decide for themselves whether to make a report to the police or not. In particular, UNSW acknowledges and supports the NSW Health Policy Directive: Sexual Assault Services Policy and Procedure Manual (Adult) and Rights of the Client 'to make choices about proceeding with legal action' (2005, Page 16)

However, it is important to point out that under New South Wales law, if you have useful information about a serious criminal offence and you, without a reasonable excuse, don’t tell the Police, you may be committing an offence.  There may be a good reason why you do not want to make a report to the Police and where possible, this decision will be respected by UNSW.

If you find yourself in this dilemma, UNSW encourages you to seek legal advice - for example, UNSW students can have a confidential conversation with the legal officer at Arc. Students and staff can seek advice from Kingsford Legal Centre or any other community legal centre or private legal practice.  (Please note that a private legal practice would ordinarily charge you fees for advice).

15. If I have already made a portal report can I add more information later?

Yes. But instead of going through the portal again all you need to do is send an email with the updated information to: reportsexualmisconduct@unsw.edu.au

Make sure you include in the email the submission ID you received when you submitted your original report to the portal.

16. Do you need a student zID number to make a report on the portal?

No.  However if you are making a report on behalf of a student, privacy laws provide that you must have their consent to make the report.

17. What if someone makes a false report?

Deliberately making a false report is a very serious matter. It is important to recognise the immense harm which a false report might cause, to the person wrongly accused of sexual misconduct, and to that person’s family, friends and community. Deliberately making a false report is also potentially damaging to those who have in fact experienced sexual misconduct, and who may fear that they will not be believed because of the occurrence of false reports.

If the person found to have deliberately made a false report is a UNSW staff member or student, this would amount to a breach of the Staff or Student Code of Conduct, and may result in a disciplinary outcome.

If you are not the person making a false report, but you are aware that someone has deliberately made a false report, you should email reportsexualmisconduct@unsw.edu.au as soon as possible. The UNSW response team will be able to contact the appropriate UNSW staff and take the matter further.