How you respond is important

A report or disclosure may be received by anyone within the Griffith community. The best way to provide support is to let the survivor tell their story, assure them that it is not their fault, let them know that you believe them and refer them to specialised support services.

What should I do? What should I say?

Often, disclosures are made by survivors who are seeking assistance for other matters.  For example "I need an extension on my assessment" or "I need to take a few days off". Because of this, the University recognises that anyone in our campus communities might hear a disclosure.

In circumstances where there is a continued threat to the safety of the person, or others around, or anyone is in need of urgent medical attention, you should call 000 in the first instance, otherwise you should always be guided by the wishes of the survivor and let them be in control of what happens next.

The manner in which you respond can have a significant impact on the survivor's willingness and ability to report an incident or seek further support.

Here are some basic principles to follow:

Listen and believe

Ensure they are feeling safe and don't require urgent medical or safety intervention.

Provide the survivor with your full attention, remain calm, and validate their emotions and experience. Let them know that you believe them.

Remember that while the survivor has chosen to disclose to you, they might not be ready to report the incident formally.

Don't ask 'Why?" type questions, these may seem judgmental or to be inflicting blame. For example:

×Why were you wearing that?
×Why were you still with them?
×Why didn't you go home earlier?


Let the survivor know about the support and reporting options available at Griffith and externally.

  • Counselling and Wellbeing, including access to priority appointments.
  • On campus Health and Medical services
  • Informal disclosure to a Harassment and Discrimination Contact officer, a student organisation or other entity
  • Lodgement of a formal concern to the Academic Registrar
  • Queensland Police Service
  • External support services such as 1800 Respect, DV Connect and local sexual violence services

Look after you, too

It can be confronting to witness or hear a disclosure of sexual assault or sexual harassment.

Bystanders and responders can also access counselling and wellbeing support through the Student Counselling and Wellbeing service, or the Employee Assistance Program.

Download a guide to responding effectively

Referral options

Learn more about disclosure and reporting options at Griffith and externally


If you are interested in learning more about responding effectively and compassionately to disclosures, or being an effective bystander, let us know.

Concerned about a student?

You can consult with Counselling & Wellbeing Service about responding to students who are in distress or at risk

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