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Sexual harassment is where a person engages in any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature,where it could be anticipated the possibility that the other person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. Sexual harassment can occur even if the behaviour is unintentional, and a single incident can amount to sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment refers to a wide range of behaviours and includes behaviour which may be written, printed, verbal, non-verbal or physical (including transmission or display of inappropriate electronic communications, use of social media)
Examples of potential sexual harassment include:
- Physical intimacy or contact
- Sexual jokes, images, emails, gestures, remarks or conversations
- Intrusive personal questions
- Spreading gossip about a person, such as sexual gossip
- Displays of sexually explicit images (eg on computers, social media, posters, or graffiti)
- Request for sexual acts or favours, or unwelcome or repeated gifts or requests for 'dates'
- Sexual assault, rape or stalking (which are also criminal offences)
- Find more out more about your rights at FedUni and what constitutes sexual harassment
Harassment on the basis of certain personal characteristics (discriminatory harassment) is a form of discrimination and can take the form of a wide range of deliberate and unintentional behaviours, which are unwelcome and uninvited and that cause another person to feel intimidated, offended and/or humiliated on the basis of these personal characteristics:
- Marital status
- Status as parent or carer
- Physical features
- Religious belief or activity
- Race, colour, nationality or ethnicity
- Political belief or activity
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- Lawful sexual activity
- Employment or industrial activity
Behaviours which might result in another person feeling intimidated, offended and/or humiliated include:
- Intrusive personal questions
- Spreading gossip about a person, such as about a person's (real or assumed) race, religion, sexual orientation, disability etc
- Sexist or racist language or humour or images
- Displays of offensive images (eg on computers, social media, posters, or graffiti) which target characteristics such as race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, age
- Negative comments, taunts, jokes or insults eg at the expense of others' characteristics such as race, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex, age, religion.
- Negative comments or actions about adjustments made because of a person's disability or culture or carer responsibilities
Find more out more about your rights at FedUni and what constitutes harassment.
Bullying is repeated, unreasonable behaviours that are directed towards a person (either in person or via emails, phones, websites and forms of social media), that creates a risk to health and safety. These can include:
- Abusive, insulting or offensive language
- Behaviour or language that frightens, humiliates, belittles or degrades
- Teasing or regularly making someone the brunt of practical jokes
- Spreading gossip, rumours and/or innuendo
- Deliberately excluding or isolating a person from normal work and/or study activities
- Tampering with personal effect or work/study equipment
- Intimidating someone through inappropriate personal comments, belittling opinions or unjustified criticisms
- Overloading a person with work/tasks outside the scope of the job/course description
- Setting timelines outside the scope of the course description that are difficult to achieve or constantly changing deadlines
- Setting tasks that are unreasonable or beyond a person’s ability and/or outside the scope of the job/course description
- Deliberately isolating a person or ignoring them; and/or
- Deliberately denying access to information relevant to the person’s duties studies
Find more out more about your rights at FedUni and what constitutes bullying
Threatening communication is behaviour that creates a reasonable apprehension of violence (including physical or psychological harm). Examples include angry, aggressive communications, making threats to harm or kill another person, producing a weapon, threats of self-harm or suicide, persistently glaring at a person, adopting a menacing posture, threats of or actual property damage.
A threat is an expression of intent to do harm. It can be oral, written, gestural (eg. throat-slashing gesture) or symbolic (eg. drawing, image).
Physical assault is a direct assault on the body or property, including use of weapons or destruction of property. It includes the actual, attempted or threatened exercise of any force intended to cause physical or psychological harm to a person.
Sexual assault is sexual activity that a person has not consented to. It can refer to a broad range of sexual behaviours that makes someone feel:
Sexual assault occurs on a continuum both in person, and online and can include:
- Intrafamilial sexual assault (between family members)
- Indecent assault
- Child sexual assault
- Sexual comments / wolf whislting / catcalls
- Unwanted sexual touch
- Unwanted phone calls
Find out more information on what is sexual assault and consent from Victoria Police website.
Consent is an agreement freely and voluntarily given by a person with the cognitive capacity to do so. Consent is not freely and voluntarily given if you:
- Are being forced
- Are unconscious or asleep
- Are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Are under threat or intimidation
- Are in fear of bodily harm
- Have a mistaken belief that the offender was your sexual partner
Silence does not mean consent
If a person does not protest, physically resist, or suffer injuries, this does not mean they freely agreed to sexual activity.
Stalking is when a person does something repeatedly that causes another person harm or to fear for their safety. A person can stalk someone by:
- Following them
- Repeatedly contacting them
- Posting things about them on the internet
- Hanging around outside their home or work
- Acting offensively towards them, their family or friends.