Sexual assault cases are on the rise in Australia.  The Australian government reports that 53% of women and 25% of men have experienced sexual assault in their lifetime.

These are stunning statistics and indicate that this is a very real concern for both men and women.  Being charged with sexual assault can not only ruin your career, it can ruin your life.

Are there steps you can take to minimise the risk?

Whether you are accused of sexual touching offences, or have been the victim, you need to contact a good attorney.

What Is Sexual Assault?

The first step to defeating or defending oneself against sexual assault is to understand it.  The following constitute some of the elements:

  • Unwanted touching or kissing
  • Having sex without consent

Being exposed to inappropriate sexual behaviours without your consent, such as:

  • Forcing someone to take off their clothes
  • Indecent text, email, or social media post
  • Distributing pictures or videos of a person that are sexual in nature, without consent.

The theme running through this list is consent.  Be extremely cautious in your behaviour and conduct. Think before you tell that “funny joke”, or say or do something, someone else might consider inappropriate and offensive.


If you have been accused of sexual harassment you need a good lawyer who will put together a legal strategy to help you deal with the situation.

Do not communicate with the accuser.  Any contact with the accuser should be made through your legal counsel.

Cooperate with the authorities.  If you are approached by law enforcement or a corporate officer, be cooperative.  Make sure you appraise your counsel and ask them to accompany you to any meeting with authorities.

Gather evidence. Work with your attorney to collect evidence that may exonerate you or support your innocence.


If you are the victim of sexual harassment, check your company’s policies on sexual harassment to understand what procedures and guidelines are in place.

Talk with someone you trust.  This could be a supervisor or human resources representative for support and guidance

If the situation is serious, and can’t be addressed in another way, then file a formal complaint with the company.

Lastly, if the situation has not been resolved, you can file a complaint with an external body, with the police or the Australian Human Rights Commission.


Companies and corporations also have a duty under Australian law to eliminate risks to the health and safety of workers.  This includes the risk of sexual harassment.

A company should have a carefully drafted anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policy.  This document should lay out a zero-tolerance policy.

It should outline the rights of employees to complain about harassment of any kind.  Whether it’s harassment, discrimination or retaliation.

It should outline procedures for both the victims of harassment and protections for the accused.

No one, neither the victim nor the accused wants to become involved in a sexual harassment case at work.

Treat your fellow employees with respect.  Be careful of dating or fraternising with your fellow employees.  Think about what you say and do, and maintain a professional demeanour.

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