Victoria University takes a strong stand against violence in any form, including sexual and gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence is a serious social issue driven by gender inequality and enabled by sexist behaviours and attitudes.

We work to build a culture of safety and respect, where students and staff are empowered to become change agents to help stop gender-based violence at the University and in the wider community.

Respect & Responsibility program

The Respect and Responsibility program implements the University’s Building Respectful Futures Together strategy. We deliver programs and initiatives that challenge gender stereotyping and help change attitudes and behaviours around sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The Building Respectful Futures Together strategy promotes gender equality as a key action to prevent gender-based violence. It pursues gender equality transformation within and beyond the University. By engaging with student leaders, students and staff, framing respectful relationships as a core 21st-century skill for graduates, building and contributing to community violence prevention strategies and connecting researchers with one another, the strategy seeks to embody the vision and moral purpose of VU. 

VU’s strategy to prevent gender-based violence is aligned with the ‘Change the Story’ national framework, and takes place across four interlinked domains of action:

  1. Engagement: partnering with students, staff and community organisations to promote respect and gender equality
  2. Leadership: leading prevention work among universities, and within the communities we serve
  3. Evaluation: collecting and analysing data to ensure our actions are relevant, effective and contribute to building the evidence base for what works in preventing gender-based violence
  4. Transformation: providing evidence-based, transformative training opportunities to both students and staff.


Some of the Respect and Responsibility program achievements since 2016 include:

  • co-producing two award-winning online resources with students, on the topics of Bystander Awareness and Action, and Consent and Respectful Relationships
  • the development and publication of the University’s first Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Response policies and procedures
  • training hundreds of students and staff in responding to disclosures of sexual assault, sexual harassment and family violence
  • creating and distributing more than 5000 postcards with survivor-focused responding to disclosures information and resources
  • attracting $335,000 of grant funding to support pioneering work in engaging men and in evaluating aspects of violence prevention programs
  • supporting VU students and staff from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to take part in a Leadership in Preventing Violence Against Women course coordinated by AMES
  • annual participation in the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign since 2016
  • participation and leadership within the Preventing Violence Together 2030 regional partnership.

Future initiatives

Future program initiatives include:

  • continuing to provide transformative training opportunities to both students and staff
  • innovative programs to engage men as allies (see testimonies from some VU allies)
  • establishment of the EAAA sexual assault resistance program for first-year women
  • collaborating at all levels with communities within and beyond the University.

Email [email protected] if you would like to be an active part of this important work, or would like more information on our program.

My friend told me about a sexual assault - what should I do?

Sexual assault and sexual harassment are very common. If your friend, classmate or colleague tells you about unwanted sexual contact, there are some simple things you can do that will really help.

1. Believe them

Believing someone when they tell you about sexual assault or sexual harassment is really important. It takes a lot of courage for someone to talk about sexual assault or harassment. Let your friend know that you believe them, and tell them that it’s not their fault.

2. Listen to them

Let the person talk, and really listen. Don’t focus on your reactions. Don’t ask for details of the assault, or ask questions like “Why did you go there?” or “Were you drunk?” Just listen, and let them know you want to support them.

3. Help them find support

Getting support as soon as possible is important. See the important contacts listed on this page (below). Sexual assault or harassment of any kind is unacceptable. You can report an assault anonymously if you wish to Safer Community.

Important contacts

On campus

Other resources

  • 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732): National helpline for advice and support about sexual assault. They can connect you with appropriate services wherever you are.
    Live chat also available at
  • Western Region Centre Against Sexual Assault (WestCASA): Counselling and crisis support in the western suburbs of Melbourne.
    Call +61 3 9216 0444 (After hours: 1800 806 292)
  • inTouch: Provides services and support to migrants and refugees.
    Call 1800 755 988
  • Q Life: Provides peer support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI) people and their friends, families and allies.
    Call 1800 184 527
  • Djirra: Provides culturally safe and accessible services to Aboriginal people seeking support.
    Call 1800 105 303
  • Women's Information & Referral Exchange (WIRE): Any woman, any issue - free support, referral and information for all Victorian women, non-binary and gender diverse people.
    Call 1300 134 130

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is a global campaign that happens every year between 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and 10 December (International Human Rights Day).

VU has participated in 16 Days of Activism in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Read about VU's program of free events to highlight gender equality and preventing violence against women.

Contact us

For more information about Respect and Responsibility programs, initiatives and training please contact:

Email: [email protected]