Let’s talk about Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any form of unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour or attention that makes a person feel offended, intimidated or humiliated. Sexual harassment can be in person or online and can happen to anyone.

Sexual harassment is against the law as detailed in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and encompasses sexual harassment at educational institutions between students and between students and staff.
Sexual harassment can look like a lot of different things and may not always be obvious. Sometimes a person may unintentionally act in a way that another may consider sexual harassment, however, this does not make it okay. Some examples of sexual harassment include:

In person

  • Touching, grabbing or making other physical contact without consent.
  • Leering or staring
  • Making unwanted requests for dates or sex
  • Making sexualised comments or jokes
  • Making sexual gestures or suggestive body movements towards another person
  • Intrusive questions about a person private life or body
  • unnecessary familiarity (deliberately brushing against somebody)


  • Texting or emailing sexually explicit content
  • Making obscene phone calls
  • Placing sexually explicit content on social media
  • Leaving sexual comments on somebody’s social media posts.
  • Showing pornographic content

51% of Australian university students experienced sexual harassment in 2015-2016, and 45% of those students knew some or all of the perpetrators.

1 in 5 People Have/will be a victim of revenge porn

Australian eSafety Commissioner www.esafety.gov.au

Sexual harassment can have many negative consequences and may severely impact a person’s life in both the short and long term. Some of these consequences may include:


  • Stress
  • Headaches
  • Sleeping problems
  • Lack of concentration


  • Fear
  • Social isolation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety


  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Lack of confidence
  • Paranoia and nervousness
  • Problems with self-image

Keeping Safe

Be aware of your environment
Different environments can carry different risk levels with some situations being more known for sexual harassment behaviour. Be aware of your own actions as well as keeping safe in environments such as:

  • Bars and clubs
  • Chat rooms
  • Online dating websites
  • Social media

What to do

If you are being sexually harassed or feeling unsafe on campus there are various options. 

  • If it happens in one of the on-campus bars – tell security or bar staff so they can have the person removed.
  • If it happens within a learning environment – talk to the staff member who is running the workshop/lecture/practical, talk to QUT Equity Harassment and Discrimination Advisors or call campus security.
  • Report the incident to the police.
  • If you learn there is a photo of you posted online without your permission, you can do something about it: (A) If it has been posted on social media, you can contact the relevant website and ask to have it removed, and (B) contact the Office of the E-Safety Commissioner or the police to report the matter. It’s easy to feel embarrassed and ashamed if this happens to you, but know that it is not your fault.
  • While there are no specific laws (as yet) protecting you against online harassment on dating platforms, most apps and websites have their own reporting protocol in place to deal with fake accounts, harassment and online bullying. Get to know the inner workings of your app of choice and how the reporting feature works. In situations where you feel your welfare is in danger (1) take screenshots of the conversation, and (2) call the police directly.
  • There are new systems in place so social media companies will be financially liable if they do not take down reported posts containing bullying, harassing, or sexually explicit material. So if you see any posts which make you uncomfortable or have any hostile posts directed at you, please report the posts to the social media platform they appear on.  

Finding support

Experiencing sexual harassment is not something to be embarrassed by and is not your fault. It can help to talk to somebody just to be heard and who can go through what options are available to you. If you are in immediate danger call the police on 000 and if you are on campus you can also call  QUT Security on 3135 8888 or use the Emergency Help button on the QUT SafeZone App.

The University has Harassment and Discrimination Advisors who sit within Student Services and are trained to listen to you, ensure your safety, put in any academic support you may need, be guided by what you want to do next, and connect you with any counselling or external support services as required.

The University’s Student Services department also has a free Counselling service that may also be of assistance to you, including support for any wellbeing and health concerns. You only need to save one phone number in you phone and go to one place for support from our Harassment and Discrimination Adviser, counsellors, mental health nurse. This way you can get the advice, support or referral to other services in one place. If you or a friend you're referring to support requires an interpreter, this can be arranged upon request. 


Immediate support in emergencies

Police - 000

QUT Security - 3138 8888

QUT support services

Equity Harassment and Discrimination Advisors - 3138 2019 - discriminationadvisor@qut.edu.au

QUT free counselling service - 3138 2019 - student.counselling@qut.edu.au

Or make an appointment online 

Use the online reporting form

Security can escort you around campus if you feel unsafe. Give them a call on 3138 5585 or download the SafeZone app.

Read more about:

Being an Active Bystander

Helping Others



Online Abuse

Sexual Assault