Staff protocol for responding to a sexual assault allegation

The information on this web page guides ANU staff through the process they are required to follow when an ANU student alleges they been sexually assaulted. Other forms of unwanted sexual behaviour, such as sexual harassment, are dealt with under other policies and procedures, for example the student complaint resolution policy

The term, 'sexual assault' is used in this document and includes indecent assault, rape, sexual abuse or other forms of sexual violence. 'Sexual assault' is the broadly accepted term within the community to refer to unwanted physical sexual attention. In the criminal law this term has a more specific meaning which varies across States and Territories. In the ACT, it principally refers to an actual or threatened assault with the intent to engage in sexual intercourse or engaging in sexual intercourse without consent.

The University strives to provide a safe, supportive and caring environment free from all forms of unwanted sexual attention. It provides sexual assault training and support to key staff and to senior residents of Halls, Lodges and residential Colleges. ANU also supports campaigns aimed at preventing sexual assault and promoting safe and respectful relationships within the ANU community.

When it becomes aware of an allegation that a student has been sexually assaulted, the University will be active in its support of the student by providing the support and information, including facilitating access to relevant counselling, medical, police or legal services. Initially, the primary concern of the University is to ensure the safety of the student making the allegations.

The University respects the rights of all survivors of sexual assault to be in control of the decisions affecting them, especially the student's right to decide whether to seek counselling or medical services or police or legal intervention.

Establish immediate safety

If you or another person are in immediate danger call 000 now.

Immediate risks to the student's safety might include an imminent danger from the alleged perpetrator or an immediate medical or physical emergency:

  • Call 000 and report the incident to emergency services,
  • then call ANU Security 6125-2249,
  • then continue to follow steps outlined in the Critical Incident Policy.

How to respond

Be calm and provide an empathic response. If you are in a public space where privacy may be compromised, secure a private area to discuss the matter further. You may need to ask a supervisor, co-worker or other staff member for help. Contact the Counselling Centre for advice on 6125 2449. After hours contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for advice 24/7.

In asking questions about the incident focus on ensuring that the student is physically and medically safe and on collecting only what is needed to facilitate access to medical, counselling or legal support as outlined in step 3.

Speaking clearly, calmly and compassionately can assist the student to begin to feel safe which will help them to begin the process of working out what they want to have happen next.

Remember sexual assault is an abuse of power and control by one or more people using sexual means over another person. It is a traumatic incident that overwhelms a person's capacity to cope.

Supporting a student who discloses a sexual assault can have a major influence on their recovery, their willingness to proceed with legal action and to seek medical and counselling services.

Facilitate access to services

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre

The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre has expertise in working with people who have made allegations of sexual assault. This includes providing crisis and ongoing counselling support, information about medical options, legal options, victim's compensation through to court preparation and court support. The student can use the Centre without reporting the allegations to the police. The services are free and confidential.

Ask the student if they want immediate assistance from the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre and assist them to make contact on 6247 2525. Direct referral to the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre is possible between 7am-11pm seven days per week. After 11pm a counsellor can be contacted by contacting Forensic and Medical Sexual Assault Care (FAMSAC) on 6244 2185 or the police (outlined later in this document).

If the student does not want immediate contact with the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, provide printed information and contact details of the service.

It is preferable that students are supported to access the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre as it is the specialist service within the ACT funded to support people who have experienced sexual violence. It provides support for male survivors through Service Assisting Male Survivors of Sexual Assault (SAMSSA). The Nguru Program provides culturally appropriate counselling for members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, who have experienced sexual assault, and their families.

ANU Counselling Centre

The ANU Counselling Centre also provides counselling and referral for students who have experienced sexual assault. This can be complementary to counselling provided by Canberra Rape Crisis Centre or on its own if the student prefers to seek counselling on-campus. If a student attends the Counselling Centre the counsellor will:

  • provide a safe, supportive environment for the student to discuss any concerns
  • establish that the student is aware of their options for support
  • provide information as required
  • facilitate access to other services according to the student's decisions
  • provide ongoing counselling if preferred by the student (within the guidelines of service).

The ANU Counselling Head of Centre (or delegate) is also available for consultation about allegations of sexual assault. Call 6125 2442 to access the ANU Counselling Centre. The Centre's opening hours are from 9am to 4.45pm weekdays, closed from 1pm to 2pm for lunch.

Medical Support

Communicate the importance of medical attention to the student and discuss if assistance is needed at this time.

Medical attention for sexual assault victims is vital for detecting and treating a range of medical concerns, including sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, and both apparent and internal injuries. Ideally people who have alleged sexual assault should be seen as soon as possible to address these health concerns.

Forensic and Medical Sexual Assault Care (FAMSAC) at Canberra Hospital provides forensic and medical sexual assault care to people who have been sexually assaulted. A forensic medical examination may be conducted up to 5 days after a sexual assault.

Emergency contraception is extremely efficacious if given within 48 hours of unprotected sex. It may be given up to 120 hours after unprotected sex.

Medical examination is offered to all FAMSAC clients in day time hours. In addition forensic examination can be conducted if the client presents within the appropriate time frame. Forensic specimens may be collected and stored at FAMSAC for a period of 2 weeks after their collection. This gives the client time to make a decision about whether to proceed with the legal pathway.

Ideally people who have alleged sexual assault should be seen as soon as possible after a sexual assault to address these health matters.

FAMSAC provides a 24 hour, 365 day a year on-call service. Access to the on-call doctor is through:

  • Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC) 7am-11pm 7 days per week on 6247 2525 or
  • Canberra Sexual Health Centre (CSHC) available business hours on 6244 2184 or
  • Canberra Hospital switch board available 24 hours on 6244 2222, or
  • Australian Federal Police on 131 444.

If the student does not want assistance at this time, provide printed referral information from this ACT Health page.

The ANU Health Centre can facilitate access to medical care 6125 3598.

Police and Legal Support

The decision to proceed with making a complaint to the police is the decision of the student who has alleged the sexual assault.

The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (6247 2525) can provide information for students considering reporting the sexual assault. Some students prefer to go directly to the police as they are clear that they wish to make a report. If this is the case contact the Australian Federal Police on 131 444.

A report of misconduct can also be made by a student, or resident of a hall or lodge of the University, under the Discipline Rule 2018. However, where a report is made to the police any action under the Rule may be suspended, as the police are the appropriate body to deal with what would then be an allegation of criminal conduct.

Provide printed information

Even if the student does not want assistance at this time, provide printed referral information whenever possible.

Proceed to Critical Incident Protocol

Inform the student that you are required to report the incident to ANU Security and the Registrar Student Life. Request permission from the student to release their name and contact details to ANU Security and the Registrar. The Registrar will ensure the University follows up with the student regarding their support needs. If the student does not give their permission you must not release their name and contact details unless there is a serious threat to the life, health or safety of the individual or others. There are many reasons why a student may not give their permission, they may be worried about not being believed, fear of reprisals, not wanting family or others to know, humiliation, shame and lack of faith that in the police and justice system, or they may have made a positive decision to protect their privacy. In any case, no judgment should be made where a student does not give permission to release their details.

If there are no serious health or safety issues and you do not have permission to release their personal contact and identifying details, then inform the student that you will report the incident to ANU Security and the Registrar, Student Life with no contact or personal identification details. The report will be used for statistical purposes and contains only the nature of the incident and the location and date of occurrence. If there is a threat to safety of the individual or others dial 000, call ANU Security and then proceed as outlined in the Critical Incident Policy.


Debriefing for any staff member or student responding to an allegation of sexual assault is available through: ANU Counselling Centre, Advisor to Staff and the Employee Assistance Program. See contact details below.

University services

1) ANU Security

6125 2249
ANU Security maintains a 24 hour presence on campus in order to ensure safety and security. ANU Security maintains a 24 hour patrol, responding to emergency situations and providing First Aid.

2) Registrar, Division of Student Life
0434 689 904 *

ANU Health Service
Front Desk 6125 3598 or Nurse 6125 9695 between 2-4pm weekdays

9am-5pm Mon-Thu; 9am-4pm Fri. Closed 12.30-1.25pm & Public holidays
Medical support, information and referral

ANU Counselling Centre
6125 4442 

9am-4.45pm Mon-Fri. Closed 1- 2pm & Public holidays
Counselling, support, information and referral

Heads of Residential Halls and Colleges: for students who live on campus
Academic and personal support, referral and information regarding internal discipline processes

Dean of Students
6125 4184
Academic and personal support, referral and information regarding internal discipline processes

ANU Legal Office
6125 8489
Legal support for staff

6125 4187

Legal Officer
6125 2444

Mon-Wed only
Legal support for students

6125 2444

Legal Officer
6125 2444
Mon-Thurs only
Legal support for students

Staff Employee Assistance Program

Adviser to Staff
6125 3616
Messages can also be left at 6125 2442
9am-4.45pm, Mon-Thu
Counselling, support, information and referral

Supporting Students in Distress: reference guide for staff

1800 808 374

9am-5pm and 24hr after hours service 
External providers for staff and their immediate family members. This service includes phone, face-to-face and online (skype or email) counselling. Entitlement is limited to 4 appointments per year for staff members and their immediate family members.

Relationships Australia
6122 7100

9am to 5pm Mon-Fri.
External provider for relationship counselling. This service includes phone counselling as well as face to face counselling.

Referal numbers for assistance

For all emergencies call 000

Canberra Rape Crisis Centre
6247 2525

7am-11pm, 7 days a week for support, information or advocacy.

Service Assisting Male Survivors of Sexual Assault (SAMSSA)
6247 2525

7am-11pm, 7 days a week for counselling, support information or advocacy.

The Nguru Program
6247 2525

Phone support between 7am and 11pm.

Forensic and Medical Sexual Assault Care (FAMSAC) is a 24 hour, 365 day a year on-call service with access to the on-call Doctor through either:

  • Canberra Rape Crisis Centre (CRCC) 7am-11pm, 7 days a week on 6247 2525 or
  • Canberra Sexual Health Centre (CSHC) available business hours on 6244 2184 or
  • Canberra Hospital switch board available 24 hours on 6244 2222

Australian Federal Police Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Team (SACAT)
131 444

Facilitates police interviews, medical forensic examinations and the provision of support for sexual assault victims
1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732. Telephone support and information for victims, friends, relatives and colleagues 

ACT Mental Health Crisis Assessment Team
1800 629 354
6205 1065

Acute mental health assessment and treatment service. On call 24 hours, 7 days