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Supporting for students who experience sexual harm

Published: 24th February 2023

We want your time here to be a positive experience. However, if you experience unwanted or unsafe behaviour, we take this very seriously and will provide dedicated support.

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Orientation and the first weeks of semester are an exciting time for students as you join the Murdoch University community. There’s a lot to remember, from understanding the campus map, to getting on top of your first week’s content and learning about academic integrity.

We are so excited to welcome you to Murdoch and want your time here to be a positive experience. We are proud to be supporting you through such an important time in your life, and want to take a moment to remind you that we take our responsibility of helping you through difficult times very seriously as well.

We have a strong focus on our campuses being inclusive and safe spaces for all. As with any space you spend your time in, Murdoch has an expectation of positive and respectful behaviour from everyone who studies and works on our campuses. However, if you experience unwanted or unsafe behaviour, particularly sexual harm, Murdoch takes this seriously and provided dedicated support for our students.

The following article discusses themes of sexual assault and sexual harassment. We encourage students to read this content when they are ready to, and to return later if this content is confronting at this point in time.

Murdoch’s Sexual Harm Policy

Sexual harm covers a range of experiences where an act or behaviour of a sexual nature causes someone to be physically or emotionally harmed. This includes but is not limited to sexual assault, sexual abuse and sexual harassment, including inappropriate propositions, questions, comments and stares. Anyone can be a person who experienced sexual harm, regardless of their gender identity or sexuality.

We take a trauma-informed approach to sexual harm, which is reflected in our Sexual Harm Policy.

It is our hope that you will not need to use this policy during your time at Murdoch, but if you witness, experience or are informed of sexual harm, we are here to offer support and be your advocate. In every instance, we encourage you to access the services and supports available when you need them, as listed below.

Trauma-Informed Sexual Harm Supports

Sexual Harm Support Officers

Our Sexual Harm Support Officers (SHSO) are here to help you access specialist services, make a report and understand University processes. You can read a little bit about them and their roles online. All of them are trained health professionals skilled to support you the best they can, and let you guide the process.

Staff, students and the Murdoch community can email the SHSOs to request a phone call or face-to-face appointment. Please do not provide too many details over email, as this is not a secure medium.

Nothing is too small to talk about with our SHSOs, so please reach out even if you are not sure of what you’ve experienced and want to process it and discuss next steps in a safe and supportive space. A disclosure form does not need to be completed prior to the email.

Any and all disclosures are treated confidentially and can be made anonymously as well. You can either fill out a disclosure form independently or with an SHSO.

On-campus support services

On campus, the Murdoch University Medical Service and Counselling Service provide a range of services for students and staff. Both services can usually offer appointments within two working days and the Medical Service provides walk-in appointments with the University nurse for urgent situations.

The Medical Service is located in Building 418.1 (under the Tavern) and can be contacted by phone (9360 2293) or email. They are open from 8:30am-4:30pm, Monday to Friday.

The Counselling Service is located in Building 440.1.044 and operates from 8:30am-4:30pm, Monday to Friday. Enrolled Murdoch students are entitled to six free sessions per year and can get in touch by phone (9360 1227) or email.

Off-campus support services (24-hour support)

A message for our students as you start the semester

We want you to feel supported and safe throughout your time here.

Murdoch University would like to make it clear that we do not accept sexual harm at this University, and we are committed to supporting those who experience it. That means that we are here to listen to you, provide holistic support and let you take control of how to proceed if you’ve experienced sexual harm.

At Murdoch, we advocate for and empower people who experience or witness sexual harm to make informed decisions on accessing support, making disclosures, and submitting reports. We are committed to helping you make that decision without judgement or influence.

We hope the beginning of your semester is a wonderful, safe experience, and we look forward to taking this new journey with you.