Guidelines For Responding To An Allegation Of Sexual Assault

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Guidelines for Responding to an Allegation of Sexual Assault

The information in the guidelines guides Lincoln staff and student leaders through the process they are required to follow when a Lincoln resident alleges they have been sexually assaulted or indecently assaulted. Other forms of unwanted sexual behaviour, such as sexual harassment, are dealt with under other policies and procedures.

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 SA, it principally refers to an actual or threatened assault with the intent to engage in sexual intercourse, or engaging in sexual intercourse without consent.

Lincoln strives to provide a safe, supportive and caring environment free from all forms of unwanted sexual attention. It provides “Responding to reports of sexual assault” training and support to key staff and to student leaders within the College. Lincoln supports campaigns aimed at preventing sexual assault and promoting safe and respectful relationships within the resident community.

When an allegation of sexual assault is reported, the College will be active in its support of the resident by providing support and information, including facilitating access to relevant counselling, medical, police or legal services. Initially, the primary concern of the College is to ensure the safety of the resident making the allegations.

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

Step 1 – 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 the Duty RA on 0400 200 807, or the Dean on 0411 407 205
  • Then continue to follow steps outlined in the Critical Incident Policy.

Step 2 – If a resident tells you they have been sexually assaulted

Be calm and provide an empathetic 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 the Head of College, Dean, Senior RA, or other staff member for help. Contact the Yarrow Place for advice on 8226 8777. After hours contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 738 for advice 24/7.

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 can overwhelm a person’s capacity to cope. Restoring power to the person who has been assaulted is an important part of recovery, and so ensure that the person who has been assaulted is supported to make their own decisions about the process – provide information, options, and allow them to choose, including choosing to do nothing for the time being.

In asking questions about the incident, focus on ensuring that the student is physically and medically safe and on collecting only what information 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.

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.

Step 3 – Provide information and facilitate access to counselling, medical and legal support


Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service 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 resident can use the services at Yarrow Place without reporting the allegations to the police. The services are free and confidential.

Ask the resident if they want immediate assistance from Yarrow Place and assist them to make contact on 8226 8777. Direct referral to Yarrow Place is possible 24 hours, seven days per week. After hours the phone will be routed to the 1800 RESPECT service on 1800 737 732, who can arrange for crisis medical or forensic assessment if the person who has been assaulted wishes. The person may also wish to report directly to the police (steps outlined later in this document).

If the student does not want immediate contact with Yarrow Place, provide printed information and contact details of the service.

It is preferable that the students are supported to access Yarrow Place as it is the specialist service within SA funded to support people who have experienced sexual violence. It provides support for female and male survivors of sexual assault. Yarrow Place also provides culturally appropriate counselling for Indigenous people who have experienced sexual assault.

The University of Adelaide, UniSA and Flinders University also provide on-campus counselling and referral for students who have experienced sexual assault. This can be complementary to counselling provided by Yarrow Place, 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).

University of Adelaide Counselling Centre or 8313 5663.

UniSA Counselling Centre or 1300 301 703

Flinders University Counselling Centre or email and leave your full name, phone number and student ID and a counsellor will contact you via phone.

Medical Support

Communicate the importance of medical attention to the resident 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 visible and internal injuries. Ideally people who have alleged sexual assault should be seen by a medical professional as soon as possible to address these health concerns.

Yarrow Place or the Police can arrange for forensic and medical sexual assault care to people who have been sexually assaulted. A forensic medical examination may be conducted up to one week after a sexual assault, but is most useful if conducted within 72 hours.

Emergency contraception is extremely effective 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 Yarrow Place clients. In addition, forensic examination can be arranged if the client presents within the appropriate time frame. Forensic specimens may be collected and stored by Yarrow Place for up to 12 months after their collection. This gives the client time to make a decision about whether to proceed with the legal pathway.

Yarrow Place provides a 24 hour, 365 days on-call service for reports of sexual assault.

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

Making a complaint to College

The decision to proceed with making a complaint to the College is the decision of the resident who has alleged the sexual assault. The Sexual Misconduct Policy provides guidance on what a resident can expect when making a complaint of sexual assault. Residents who make a complaint to the College will be encouraged but not required to also report the incident to the Police.

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.

Yarrow Place (8226 8777) 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 South Australian Police on 131 444.

A report of misconduct can also be made by a resident of Lincoln, under the Sexual Misconduct Policy. However, where a report is made to the police any action under this policy may be suspended, as the police are the appropriate body to deal with what would then be an allegation of criminal conduct.

Step 4 – Provide printed information containing referral numbers for assistance

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

Step 5 – Proceed to Lincoln College Critical Incident Protocol

Advise the resident that you are required to report the anonymous details of the incident to the Head of College. Request permission from the student to release their name and contact details to the Head of College. This will allow the College to follow 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 in the police and justice system, or they may have made a positive decision to protect their privacy. In any case, no judgement 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 the Head of College 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 the safety of the individual or others, dial 000, call the Dean, and then proceed as outlined in the Critical Incident Policy.

Step 6 – Debriefing

Debriefing for any staff member or student leader responding to an allegation of sexual assault is available through: their University Counselling Centre, or Neaves and Menne Psychologists.

Other sources of support following sexual assault

University Counsellors

University of Adelaide
Counselling or 08 8313 5663
Ground Floor, Horace Lamb Building
North Terrace Campus
The University of Adelaide
SA 5005

University of South Australia
Counselling or 1300 301 703
Out-of-Hours Crisis Line: 1300 107 441 or text 0488 826 346

Flinders University
Counselling or email and leave your full name, phone number, and student ID and a counsellor will contact you via phone.
Out-of-Hours Crisis Line: 1300 512 409 or text 0488 884 103
Sturt Rd, Bedford Park
South Australia 5042

Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service
08 8226 8777
1800 817 421
Level 2, 55 King William Rd
North Adelaide SA 5006

National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Neaves and Menne Psychologists
08 8267 5466
28 Ward Street
North Adelaide SA 5006

SA Police
176 Grenfell St
Adelaide SA 5000 (open 24 hours)
08 7322 4800
131 444

Equal Opportunity Commission
08 8207 1977
Level 17, 45 Pirie St
Adelaide SA 5000

Legal Services Commission of SA
1300 366 424
08 8111 5555
159 Gawler Place
Adelaide SA 5000

Royal Adelaide Hospital
08 7074 0000

Ambulance attendance 000

With thanks to ANU

Review – This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis in November of each year, prior to publication in the Student Handbook, to ensure that it is compliant with best practice management and the College’s legal obligations.


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