Warning: The following content discusses experiences relating to sexual assault and sexual harassment which some readers may find confronting. Please refer to the support services available for help.

Download NSSS Infographic Australian Catholic University (PDF, 331KB)
Download NSSS 2021 National Report - national results infographic (PDF, 3.6KB)
View the full NSSS 2021 National Student Safety Report

What is the National Student Safety Survey?

The National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) is a nationwide survey conducted by the Social Research Centre (SRC) on behalf of Universities Australia to collect data on the scale and nature of students’ perceptions of safety and experiences relating to sexual harm (including sexual assault and sexual harassment) at Australian universities. It builds upon the data and recommendations from the survey completed by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2016 and Universities Australia’s Respect, Now, Always initiative.

The survey ran from 6 September until 3 October 2021.

10,000 ACU students were selected at random to receive an email. Participation was voluntary and responses were anonymous.

ACU thanks all 1621 students who participated in the survey and recognises their bravery and honesty.

The survey identified that sexual harassment and sexual assault are still common experiences for Australian university students.

While the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment at ACU is below the national average, these survey results highlight that ACU still needs to do more to build students’ confidence and awareness of the reporting processes and support services available at the university.

ACU is committed to doing this work in collaboration with students and staff, and to further reducing the prevalence of incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment at the university.


ACU is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all our students and staff and we understand that the survey results may have been a trigger for a student or staff member who has experienced sexual misconduct or for someone who may be supporting someone who has been affected. If you require support help is available:

Internal ACU support


  • Book an appointment with an ACU counsellorhttps://unihub.acu.edu.au/s/counselling/appointments/
  • ACU Out of hours Mental Health Crisis line
    • 1300 638 485 or SMS 0488 884 191 [Weekdays 5pm to 9am and 24hours on weekend (AEST] Oversees students please text 0488 884 191


  • Contact the Employee Assistance Program – AccessEAP 1800 818 728

External support

  • 1800 RESPECT – National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence counselling www.1800respect.org.au or 1800 737 732
  • Lifeline – 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention: www.lifeline.org.au or 13 11 14
  • MensLine Australia – telephone and online counselling service for Australian men: 1300 789 978  www.mensline.org.au
  • QLife – LGBTI Peer support and referral service: 1800 184 527 or www.qlife.org.au
  • Beyond Blue – Mental health support line: 1300 224 636 or www.beyondblue.org.au

To report an incident to ACU please visit www.acu.edu.au/respect or contact ACU National Security Centre on 1300 729 452.

Reporting options

All incidents of sexual assault and sexual harassment can be reported whether the student discloses to seek support, or they make a formal report and want the university to investigate.

At ACU any student, staff member or member of the public can make a disclosure or submit a formal report by clicking the “Submit a report” link below. Reports can be made anonymously, however, an anonymous report may limit the university’s capacity to effectively support the student or respond to the incident.

When a report is made to ACU it will not be shown on a student’s academic document and will not be shared amongst staff or students. Reporting an incident will not affect an international student’s visa.

For all emergencies call 000 to contact police. 

Learn more about your reporting options

Submit a report


The National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) was conducted as part of Universities Australia’s Respect.Now.Always initiative. The aim of the survey was to measure the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment experience among university students at Australian universities. It also measures broader perception of safety and views towards student campus life. The findings of the survey will help to measure the extent of these experiences among university students. This in turn will help to understand the context in which these behaviours occur, understand help seeking and reporting behaviours, and inform universities’ services and responses for student safety and wellbeing.

This is an important survey for ACU as it gives us valuable information on which to base new initiatives and strategies for addressing issues of student safety and wellbeing.

Participation in the survey will help ACU to protect students and future students. No matter your circumstances, views or experiences, your participation in the survey is important as it will help ensure the results of the study accurately represent the experiences of students at our university.

The evidence is clear. Sexual assault and sexual harassment occur right across our society. Universities are not exempt from that. One in five women in the Australian community over the age of 15 have experienced sexual violence. Universities like ACU have an important role to play in preventing sexual violence from happening and to find out the best ways to respond to survivors with compassion and support.

When someone experiences sexual assault or sexual harassment, the person they choose to talk to plays a vital role in their support. When someone discloses such personal information to you, it is important that you remain calm and reply with a safe response to ease their possible feelings of fear, discomfort, or anxiety. You are not expected to have all the answers, it is just important that you make them feel safe, heard, and supported.  

It can be difficult to know how to respond and you may be unsure about how to help. Remember to Listen, Reassure and Respect. Below are some guidelines that may assist you.

Hearing another person’s experience of sexual assault or sexual harassment can be difficult and it is normal to be impacted by this experience. It is important you take time to recognise signs that you are being impacted and know that support is available for you too. To find out about the support services available please visit the Support section above.

  • Remain calm.
  • Move to a suitable environment, free of distractions.
  • Refrain from asking why questions such as “why were you walking alone?”
  • Don’t talk about your own experiences
  • Allow the person to use their own words.
  • Give the person your full attention.
  • Don’t interrupt them.
Reassure and support
  • Acknowledge the strength and courage of the person.
  • Reassure the person that it is OK that they have told you what has been happening.
  • Use phrases like “I’m here for you”, “Thank you for telling me”, “You’re not alone”.
  • Respect that the person may only reveal some details.
  • Ensure that the person does not feel rushed or panicked.
  • Explain what will happen next using language the individual will understand.
  • Respect the person’s wishes if they do not wish to make a formal report.
What to avoid
  • Asking too many or leading questions.
  • Expressing judgement, shock, panic, anger, or disbelief.
  • Dismissing, minimising, or challenging the disclosure.
  • Confronting the alleged perpetrator.
  • Providing legal advice.

To report a disclosure of sexual assault or sexual harassment to ACU please visit the ACU Respect.Now.Always. webpage

If you require further information, please contact the National Manager, Safeguarding and Student Safety on 02 9739 2002 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday or alternatively email respectandsafety@acu.edu.au.

ACU has implemented a range of initiatives to ensure students safety and to prevent harm. Some key initiatives that ACU has implemented include:

  • Establishment of a Respect.Now.Always Advisory Committee chaired by the Vice-Chancellor and President. The committee oversees the implementation of the Respect.Now.Always Action Plan and provides advice and recommendations to the Vice-Chancellor Advisory Committee on initiatives to promote and facilitate safe, inclusive and equitable student experiences on all ACU campuses and at all university-endorsed activities.
  • Creation of the ACU consent video to identify what constitutes consent and respectful relationships.
  • ACUNSA presidents are trained and educated on ‘Respectful relationships’.
  • Staff who work directly with students, and who are more likely to receive disclosures about sexual misconduct, are provided with additional training and support to ensure a person-centred response and referrals to appropriate services.
  • Independent review conducted of student accommodation.
  • The adoption of best-practice guides from Universities Australia, the Australian Human Rights CommissionOur WatchTertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), resulting in the development and implementation of ACU’s Student Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Policy and Procedure.
  • All students living in ACU student residences undertake an induction program, which includes understanding consent and respectful relationships.  

To view more initiatives undertaken by ACU in the university’s response to the Australian Human Rights Commission, visit the ACU Respect.Now.Always webpage

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