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PSEAH and Child Protection Information

Students and staff participating in an overseas placement or study program are required to follow all USQ and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) policies and procedures while overseas. These include those relating to the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment (PSEAH) and Child Protection. 

Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Definitions:

Sexual Abuse
The actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions.  It covers sexual offences including but not limited to: attempted rape (which includes attempts to force someone to perform oral sex); and sexual assault (which includes non-consensual kissing and touching). All sexual activity with someone under the age of consent is considered to be sexual abuse. 

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 Harassment
A person sexually harasses another person if the person makes an unwelcome sexual advance or an unwelcome request for sexual favours, or engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. 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. Sexual harassment can be perpetrated against beneficiaries, community members, citizens, as well as staff and personnel. Some examples of behaviour that may be sexual harassment include:

  • staring or leering
  • unnecessary familiarity, such as unwelcome affection or touching
  • suggestive comments or jokes
  • insults or taunts of a sexual nature
  • intrusive questions or statements about your private life
  • displaying posters magazines or screen savers of a sexual nature
  • sending sexually explicit emails or text messages
  • inappropriate advances on social networking sites
  • accessing sexually explicit internet sites
  • requests for sex or repeated unwanted requests to go out on dates and
  • behaviour that may also be considered to be an offence under criminal law such as physical assault, indecent exposure, sexual assault, stalking or obscene communications.

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.

The DFAT PSEAH policy came into effect in July 2019 and outlines expectations and requirements that universities, students, staff and downstream partners must follow while on DFAT-funded programs (eg. New Colombo Plan). Downstream partners are defined as contractors, subcontractors, partners and any other entity engaged by USQ to perform DFAT-related work. USQ students and staff must also maintain appropriate standards of conduct in accordance with relevant Code of Conduct Policies.

  • 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
On a USQ overseas study program, students, staff and downstream partners must report all alleged SEAH incidents to the USQ academic program leader (if applicable) or directly to USQ via the USQ reporting function on the USQ website. USQ is required to report to DFAT any suspected or alleged incidents of SEAH related to the delivery of DFAT business. This can be done anonymously if the victim/survivor or whistle-blower does not want to be identified.

The safety and wellbeing of victims and survivors must be paramount to reporting and their information treated confidentially.  Similarly, whistle-blowers need to feel safe and protected during the reporting process.

USQ and DFAT prioritises the rights, needs and wishes of the victim/survivor while ensuring procedural fairness to all parties. This trauma-informed approach treats the victim/survivor with dignity and respect. It

  • involves the victim/survivor in decision making
  • protects privacy and confidentiality
  • does not discriminate based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, or other characteristics, and
  • considers the need for counselling and health services to assist the victim/survivor with their recovery.

Once safe to do so USQ will discuss reporting, protective and supportive options with the victim/survivor or whistle blower to determine action. Alleged SEAH incidents that involve a criminal aspect can be reported through the correct local law enforcement channels if safe to do so and according to the wishes of the victim/survivor. Information provided will be handled in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

International SOS can provide access to overseas counselling services to staff and students on an official USQ overseas mobility program.
Once returned to Australia, USQ staff and students can access services through USQ and external providers listed on the USQ website.

Child Protection

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has a zero-tolerance approach to child exploitation or abuse. Their policy applies to all DFAT funded partners that receive DFAT funding including those individuals on USQ approved overseas study programs such as the New Colombo Plan Mobility program.

Policy Principles

Principle 1: Zero tolerance of child exploitation and abuse
DFAT has a zero-tolerance approach to child exploitation and abuse. Child exploitation and abuse will attract criminal, civil and disciplinary sanctions. 
DFAT will not knowingly engage—directly or indirectly— with 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 downstream 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.  

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.

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.  Any alleged Child exploitation or abuse incidents during a USQ overseas study program must be reported to the USQ academic program leader (if applicable) or directly to USQ via the USQ reporting function on the USQ website by students, staff and/or partners.  

USQ is required to report incidents to the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) if the incident occurred during a DFAT funded program. Reports can also be made directly to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) by contacting: 
Email: childwelfare@dfat.gov.au
Telephone: +61 2 6261 2318

Information will be handled in accordance with relevant Commonwealth legislation and the Australian privacy act.