PSEAH and Child Protection policies

UOW Policies

While you are participating in a Study Overseas program, you must follow UOW policies. There are a number of requirements you need to be aware of. Two important policies are:

What is SEAH?

Sexual Exploitation:

  • Any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power, or trust for sexual purposes. 
  • It includes profiting monetarily, socially, or politically from sexual exploitation of another.

Sexual Abuse:

  • The actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions. For example:
  • Rape and attempted rape
  • Deliberately causing pain during sex
  • Assault of the genitals
  • Forcing someone to have sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (stis)
  • Forcing someone to perform sexual acts
  • Unwanted touching or kissing
  • All sexual activity with someone under the age of consent

Sexual Harassment:

  • Sexual harassment can take various forms. It can be obvious or indirect, physical or verbal, repeated or one-off and perpetrated by any person of any gender towards any person of any gender.
  • Unwelcome sexual advances or
  • Unwelcome request for sexual favours or
  • Any unwelcome conduct, sexual in nature
  • Intrusive questions about a person’s private life or body

Examples include: Staring, leering or unwelcome touching, suggestive comments or jokes, unwanted invitations to go out on dates or requests for sex, emailing pornography or rude jokes,

Who is at risk?

  • SEAH occurs across all sectors, regions and workplaces.
  • The risk of SEAH is exacerbated where
  • Unequal power dynamics,
  • Gender inequality and
  • Transactional pressures exist.

Data indicates SEAH is experienced disproportionately by females and the majority of perpetrators are male. There are many factors that heighten the likelihood of SEAH such as gender, age, disability, language, displacement, health and poverty

What is PSEAH?

In April 2019 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) launched the Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) Policy. The Policy applies to all DFAT aid, humanitarian and scholarship programs, including the New Colombo Plan. PSEAH aims to enhance accountability, improve support for people affected by exploitation harassment and abuse, and to drive cultural change through strong leadership.

The University is bound to monitor and record incidences of sexual exploitation and sexual harassments on our overseas programs. All students are expected to comply with this policy, along with other student code of conduct policies.

There are six principles of the PSEAH policy, these include:

  • Zero tolerance of inaction
  • Strong leadership accelerates cultural change
  • Victim/survivor needs are to be prioritised
  • Preventing sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment is a shared responsibility
  • Gender inequality and other power imbalances are addressed
  • Stronger reporting will enhance accountability and transparency.

Reporting Obligations

You must report all alleged sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment incidents to your UOW academic program leader or to the Director of the Office of Global Student Mobility, Ashley Tanks on We must report an incident within 24-48 hours of the incident occurring.

The office of Global Student Mobility will submit the report to DFAT on the University’s behalf, the details needed include:

  1. Name of reporter* (optional and only if safe and with granted permission)
  2. Type of allegation: (sexual exploitation/abuse/harassment/policy non-compliance)
  3. Name of overseas program:
  4. Date of alleged incident:
  5. Location of alleged incident:
  6. Details of incident:
  7. Have local and/or Australian police been made aware?
  8. Any other details:

The victim/survivor/whistleblower maintains their right to anonymity; whilst details regarding the incident, including location and program type, are necessary in order to fulfil our reporting obligations, individuals will never be identified where they have not given permission for their identity to be shared or where it would not be considered safe to share this information, even in communications within their home institution.

You can maintain anonymity through conversation with UOW academic or support staff, our trusted program facilitation partners, or UOW Security who are available for you to call 24/7 before, during, and after your program.

If you would prefer to make your report online without the need to speak about it, the following online reporting tool is also available to you and is also strictly confidential.

What Happens Next?

Once safe to do so and in accordance with the wishes of the victim/survivor or whistleblower UOW will investigate the allegation and determine appropriate action. 

Victims’ and survivors’ safety and wellbeing will be paramount to reporting and their information treated confidentially. Whistle-blowers can similarly feel safe and protected during the reporting process.

Any students involved in the incident will be offered counselling and health services to assist with their recovery.

Why are we doing this?

Over time, DFAT hope that reporting will allow us to analyse trends and improve prevention and response strategies.

Further Support at UOW

As members of the UOW community, we encourage you to report any incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment that you experience or witness on UOW campuses, in UOW residences, or during activities that you undertake as a UOW student or member of staff.

UOW encourages you to reach out for support. The Counselling Service provides specialist treatment on campus and are committed to delivering trauma-informed support that promotes safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment. Call UOW's Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Support Service on 1300 303455 for information on support, UOW policies procedures and investigation processes.

Under UOW policy, the University can investigate reported incidents on our campuses, in our residences or whilst you are undertaking activities. If you would like UOW to investigate an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment, the support staff will discuss options with you, and support you through the process. UOW encourages and supports you to report any criminal matter to NSW Police.

You may choose to disclose incidents of sexual assault or sexual harassment to any staff of the University, however we recommend you contact the Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Support Service for specialist advice and support. To disclose an incident please contact:

  • UOW's Sexual Assault & Sexual Harassment Support Service on 1300 303455 for information on support, UOW policies procedures & Investigation processes.
  • UOW Counsellors: Students call 02 4221 3445 during business hours and ask for an appointment with the Triage Specialist to get access to an urgent counselling appointment.
  • UOW Staff can access counselling via the Employee Assistance Program

The support that can be organised for you includes:

  • Information on specialist services
  • Information about how your matter could be investigated
  • Emergency accommodation
  • Financial assistance
  • Support and consideration for your studies
  • Appointments with the free Student Legal Clinic

If you are not satisfied with how the University has managed your disclosure we encourage you to report your concerns to the UOW Complaints Management Centre.

External services

The following organisations assist people who have experienced sexual assault:

After-hours services:

  • 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), the 24/7 National Counselling Helpline for people who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence. Ask for an interpreter or translator if required or call TIS on 131 450 and ask them to contact the service on your behalf.
  • Violence and Neglect (VAN) Service, in Illawarra district ph: 4222 5000 and ask for a Sexual Assault Counsellor; in Shoalhaven/Rural areas Ph: 44239211 and ask for a Sexual Assault Counsellor;
  • NSW Victims Services for information about support available to you.
  • NSW Rape Crisis Centre for 24/7 online or telephone support phone 1800 424 017 or visit the Reach out website
  • QLife: National LGBTI Telephone Counselling and Information Line on 1800 184 527. Available from 3 pm until midnight each day for telephone counselling or online chats.
  • Mensline telephone and online support and information service for men on 1300 789978 at any time.

Safe and Respectful Communities (SARC)

UOW takes its commitment to provide a safe and respectful community seriously. In doing so, the University has launched a number of programs and initiatives.

Consent Matters training

Consent Matters is an online module for students and staff that covers sexual consent, communication in relationships, and bystander intervention. This course will help people understand what consent looks like and identify situations where it can’t be given. The Consent Matters course is available to all staff and students at UOW.

OGSM requires all participants of the International Exchange Program to complete this course prior to going on exchange. 

Please access the course here or via your Get Started block on your Moodle Dashboard. 

Child Protection Policy

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has a zero-tolerance approach to child exploitation or abuse. DFAT recognises that it is the shared responsibility of all adults to prevent child exploitation and abuse. In Australia, there is the recognition that organisations that work with children also have a role in protecting them and need policies and procedures to enable them to do so.

The need to protect children from exploitation and abuse

The need to protect children is an issue for all communities. Children across the world are subjected to exploitation and abuse and experience sexual, physical and psychological violation. Many are forced into exploitative work, including commercial sexual exploitation.

There are many factors that increase children's vulnerability to exploitation and abuse, including disability or being orphaned, displaced, homeless or abandoned. During emergency and disaster situations, children are more likely to experience exploitation and abuse as a result of being separated from their parents and other caregivers who would normally protect them from such harm.

Child exploitation and abuse traumatises children and adversely affects their development and well-being. Children who are exploited and abused experience a greater likelihood of long-term consequences, including mental health issues, reduced educational outcomes, drug and alcohol abuse and increased likelihood of coming into contact with the law. At its core, child exploitation and abuse undermine a child's right to grow up safely.

The rationale for Child Protection Policy

There is international recognition that adults who have a formal role in working with or supporting children are in positions of trust and authority. The relationship between an adult and a child is not a relationship between equals. Children are dependent on adults to care for and protect them.

Child sex offenders may seek employment or volunteer placements in organisations that work with children in Australia or overseas. They might be attracted to working in developing countries in order to access vulnerable children and to avoid tougher laws.

This policy sends a clear message that child exploitation and abuse is not tolerated and attracts disciplinary and commercial sanctions, as well as criminal penalties under Australian domestic and extra-territorial laws.

Guiding Principles.

Principle 1: Zero tolerance of child exploitation and abuse

DFAT has a zero-tolerance approach to child exploitation and abuse. Such action attracts criminal, civil and disciplinary sanctions. DFAT will not knowingly engage–directly or indirectly–anyone who poses a risk to children.

DFAT works to minimise the risks of child exploitation and abuse associated with its functions and programs, and trains its staff and partners on their obligations under this policy.

Principle 2: Assess and manage child protection risk and impact

While it is not possible to entirely eliminate risks of child exploitation and abuse, careful management can identify, mitigate, manage or reduce the risks to children that may be associated with DFAT functions and programs.

Principle 3: Sharing responsibility for child protection

To effectively manage risks to children, DFAT requires the commitment, support and cooperation of partner organisations and individuals who help to deliver programs administered by DFAT.

Principle 4: Procedural fairness

DFAT will apply procedural fairness when making decisions that affect a person's rights or interests. DFAT's partners are expected to adhere to this principle when responding to concerns or allegations of child exploitation and abuse.1

1 Australian Government Attorney-General's Department 2012, Procedural fairness guidelines.

Principle 5: Recognition of the best interests of the child

Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. DFAT is committed to upholding the rights of the child and Australia's obligations under this convention. In all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

Reporting concerns or allegations of child exploitation or abuse

Child exploitation and abuse is not tolerated and attracts disciplinary and commercial sanctions, as well as criminal penalties under Australian domestic and extra-territorial laws.

If you have been abused or have any concerns relating to the abuse or exploitation of children, report it immediately.

If you or a child is in immediate danger, contact your local police.

How do I make a report?

Reports can be made by:

Telephone: +61 2 6261 2318

When notifying DFAT, you should provide as much information as possible. In the first instance, you should report

  • Names(s) of person reporting and contact details
  • Reporting Post or Agency
  • Type of Allegation
  • Details of Person(s) against whom the allegation has been made
  • Details of Victim(s)
  • Further Details
  • Any other pertinent information for initial assessment

Once this report has been received by the department, a request will be sent for more detailed information.

All information provided to the Child Protection Compliance Section will be treated confidentially in accordance with relevant Commonwealth legislation, including the Privacy Act 1988.