Discrimination & harassment

Report a concern

If you or someone you know has experienced or witnessed any inappropriate or concerning behaviour you can report it – either anonymously or with contact details.

Find out what to do if you witness or experience discrimination or harassment.

Discrimination is treating someone unfairly because of a personal characteristic protected by the law. Protected personal characteristics include age, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, political belief, race, religious belief or activity, and sex. 

Harassment is a form of discrimination; it includes behaviour that causes offence, based on a characteristic, including sexual harassment.

Discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment are unlawful in areas of public life and are against the University's policies and procedures.

What are harassment & discrimination?

Discrimination occurs when an employer treats members of certain classes unfairly because of their memberships in those groups or their protected characteristics.

Harassment involves acts that are targeted towards one person. For instance, if a woman does not get a raise because she is a woman it is discrimination. If the woman is called derogatory names because she is a woman, it is instead harassment.


Federal discrimination laws protect people from discrimination of the basis of their:

  • race, including colour, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status
  • sex, pregnancy or marital status and breastfeeding
  • age
  • disability
  • sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.


Harassment can include behaviour such as:

  • telling insulting jokes about particular racial groups
  • sending explicit or sexually suggestive emails or text messages
  • displaying racially offensive or pornographic posters or screen savers
  • making derogatory comments or taunts about a person’s disability
  • asking intrusive questions about someone’s personal life, including his or her sex life.

It is important to understand that a one-off incident can constitute harassment.

Record & report the behaviour

  • Keep a record of what happened and when, as well anything you or others have done to try and stop the behaviour.
  • Keep any evidence, including emails and messages, screenshots of posts or comments.
  • Report online harassment to the social media site, e.g. Facebook or Twitter.
  • Report the behaviour or seek advice, assistance and support from the University:
    • discuss your concerns with teaching staff for support and referrals
    • report an incident to campus Security
    • Safer Community provide advice, assistance and referrals, including appropriate safety arrangements
    • Student Matters provide advice, information and complaint resolution
    • Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying Contact Officers provide information and support to staff and students and can discuss your options with you
    • Counselling provide free and confidential support, contact 9919 5400 for an appointment
    • Advocacy provide independent representation and assistance with University processes, including special consideration.
  • Make a complaint about discrimination and harassment to the Fair Work Ombudsman or Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission on 1300 292 153.
  • If you feel unsafe or threatened, report the behaviour to the police on 000.

Seeking help

If you or someone you know has been the victim of discrimination or harrassment, you can report this behaviour and/or seek support from Safer Community. You can report the behaviour either anonymously or with your contact details by using the online form or you can contact Safer Community directly.

VU Counselling provides free and confidential support to VU Students. 

Immediate assistance
If you feel unsafe or threatened on campus, call security or the police:
VU Security: Call  +61 3 9919 6666
Police: Call 000

VU Counselling appointments:
Phone:  +61 3 9919 5400
More information: Counselling & mental health