Sexual Misconduct

The University of Adelaide is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment for all members of our community.

Members of the University community who experience sexual misconduct are encouraged to report these incidents to the University so they can be supported. The University will manage reports in a sensitive, timely and respectful manner. 

The University has a Sexual Misconduct Policy and Sexual Misconduct Response Procedure. Practical guidance on how this Policy and Procedure operate is set out below.

  • What is sexual misconduct?

    Sexual Misconduct means any act of a sexual nature that a person does not consent to, including:

    • sexual harassment - this can be verbal, non-verbal, written, graphic or physical. It includes unwelcome remarks about a person’s appearance or attractiveness; asking a person intrusive questions about their relationship or sexual activity; repeated or inappropriate invitations to go out; sending emails with sexual content; showing a person pornographic pictures e.g. on a phone or computer; unwelcome touching, hugging or kissing; inappropriate staring or leering; sexual gestures; and sexually suggestive comments or jokes.
    • sexual assault
    • unwanted sexual touching or sexual acts
    • voyeurism
    • stalking
    • recording or distributing an intimate image of another person without their consent

    Threatening to engage in any of the above conduct may also constitute Sexual Misconduct.

  • Making a report

    You can choose to report your matter as a disclosure or a complaint. A disclosure is a report that has been made where you don’t want the University to take action in relation to the alleged perpetrator, or where you haven’t yet decided if you want action taken. When you are ready for the University to take action, you can make a complaint.

    The University will make every effort to make the reporting process as straightforward as possible for you:

    • We aim to ensure you have a single point of contact to talk to.
    • You do not need to go into detail if you are not comfortable to do so to make your report.
    • We will ensure you understand your options to report matters to police or other external bodies; and your options in relation to how the University will manage your report.
    • We will keep the information you give us confidential, unless we are legally obliged to share it, or we need to share it to take action. We will let you know when this happens.
    • We will make sure you have access to wellbeing support.
    • We will work with you to consider any precautionary measures that may need to be put in place to help you feel safe.

    The Integrity Unit is responsible for receiving and managing sexual misconduct matters. If you prefer to raise your concern with another area, you can do so and they can then work with the Integrity Unit to ensure the matter is managed in accordance with the University’s Policy, Procedure and this guidance. 

    Make a report

  • Precautionary measures

    Interim (or precautionary) measures are steps the University may take to help you feel safe to continue to participate in your work or study at the University while your complaint is actioned. They are temporary, are not a disciplinary process, and do not suggest that the University has made any findings about the allegations that have been raised.

    Precautionary measures can include:

    • Suspending or restricting a person’s access to parts of the University campus or facilities.
    • Prohibiting a person from speaking or approaching another person (including online, in person or via another person).

    There may be other actions the University can take to support an individual to continue their work or studies. For students, this may include making timetable or enrolment changes. For staff, it may include temporary reassignment, or alternative work arrangements. The Integrity Unit will help you to work out what options are suitable for your situation.

What happens next?

The Integrity Unit reviews all reports of sexual misconduct and determines what action should be taken with complaints. If you have made a complaint, you will be given the opportunity to have input into what sort of action the University may take. There are two primary ways a complaint will be actioned – facilitated resolution or investigation. More information about each of these processes is set out below, and the Integrity Unit will help answer any questions you have about these processes. 

  • Facilitated resolution

    If you would prefer the matter was resolved through an agreed resolution process, rather than a formal finding being made by the University, the Integrity Unit will usually seek to facilitate this process with the respondent.  This process is known as facilitated resolution or dispute resolution. The process can include a discussion between you and the respondent, with a skilled facilitator involved, such as in a mediation or conciliation process. In this process, both parties need to agree to participate, and any outcome needs to be reached by agreement. The outcome could include:

    • An apology
    • An agreed plan of action to avoid further incidents
    • A written undertaking by the respondent
    • Training or education sessions on particular behaviours

    If you prefer not to resolve the matter in this way, or if you attempt facilitated resolution but cannot reach an outcome, the Integrity Unit will consider whether the matter should be investigated, which may be part of a formal misconduct process if the matter relates to a current staff member or student. If the investigation finds misconduct has occurred, the disciplinary outcomes will be determined by the relevant decision maker within the University.

    In some circumstances the Integrity Unit may decide that facilitated resolution is not appropriate, and that the matter requires investigation.

  • Investigation process

    Where an investigation is to be undertaken a suitably qualified and experienced investigator will be appointed the investigator will often need to conduct an interview with you, where you’ll be asked to give an account of events to the best of your recollection.

    Your account is an important piece of evidence. The investigator may need to ask you to give details about what occurred, or to clarify any information you give, especially if that does not appear to be consistent with other evidence gathered during the investigation. 

    You can have a support person with you during an interview, but it is important to note that they can’t answer questions on your behalf. Your support person also can’t be someone who witnessed or was involved in the events that you are reporting, as their evidence may need to be gathered separately by the investigator.  A support person is someone who attends the interview to provide emotional support to the interviewee (if need be) and is there to help make the process easier for you.

    A support person can also:

    • attend meetings
    • suggest a pause during meetings to support the person making the complaint and provide advice or assistance
    • take notes and help with implementing outcome

    The purpose of the investigation is it to seek to establish the facts of what has occurred. The investigator seeks to gather evidence from all available sources – including from you, the person that the compliant is about (sometimes called “the respondent”), and any witnesses. The investigation then assesses this evidence.

    Sometimes, different people will give a different account of what has happened. The investigator needs to assess what evidence they find to be most reliable, and form a view on the balance of probabilities, about what has occurred. The balance of probabilities means that the investigator must be satisfied that its more likely than not that the alleged misconduct has occurred before they will say the matter is substantiated.

    If the investigator is not satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to meet this standard, or if they find evidence that they consider supports that the alleged misconduct did not occur, they will make a finding that the allegation is not substantiated.

  • Suspending or withdrawing from an investigation

    If at any time you do not want to continue with the investigation you can talk to the Integrity Unit about your concerns at any time.  It may be possible to pause the investigation, or to progress the investigation without your involvement, depending on the circumstances. Where an investigation is part of a misconduct process, the University will also need to consider the impact of any suspension or delay on the respondent.

  • Investigation outcome

    Where a current staff member or student of the University is alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct, any investigation of the matter will usually form part of a misconduct process. Misconduct processes will usually consist of two parts – establishing the facts through investigation, and then deciding on the consequences or outcome if the facts support that misconduct has occurred.

  • Other Investigations

    Some complaints may be dealt with by multiple bodies and can result in multiple investigations being undertaken into the same or overlapping sets of circumstances. This may include the police, residential colleges, AU Sport and host employers in relation to student work placements. The University recognises that participating in multiple investigations can be distressing. It can also impact the integrity of the investigation(s). It is also acknowledged that suspending the University’s investigation while another is conducted can delay an outcome being reached. 

    The Integrity Unit will consider each matter where there is a possibility of multiple investigations occurring to determine where the University’s investigation should be suspended, where it should proceed, and where there is opportunity to conduct a joint single investigation.