Foreign government harassment occurs when a foreign government engages in harassment, intimidation, or surveillance of people to suppress their expression of contrary views.  

It may manifest as people making threats, false accusations, reporting behaviour to foreign governments, and improperly sharing others’ private information.  The University encourages those who are aware of or suspect foreign government harassment taking place to speak up.  Reports will remain confidential and can be made anonymously. 

Foreign Government Harassment at UNSW

At UNSW, foreign government harassment includes any situation where a foreign government either directly or via another person engages or endorses the harassment, intimidation or surveillance of UNSW students or staff. This can include the improper reporting of student conduct to Australian-based foreign diplomatic missions, or the inappropriate identification of or sharing of student or staff details (‘doxxing’). 

UNSW has an unequivocal commitment to freedom of expression and academic freedom.  The conduct associated with foreign government harassment is against  Australian values and has no place at UNSW.  

Human Rights Watch

In June 2021, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report on foreign government harassment, including the monitoring and threatening of students in Australian universities, both directly by foreign governments and via proxies, such as other students.  

The HRW report focused on students but we know this kind of harassment also affects staff, who can similarly be subject to intimidation and threats in an attempt to limit academic freedom or freedom of speech. 

UNSW Codes of Conduct

Regardless of the country of origin, foreign government harassment is against UNSW Codes of Conduct and our Values in Action. 

Freedom of expression at UNSW is no different to freedom of speech across Australia. The only constraints we place on freedom of speech are those that apply to the community under the law. 


Students or staff can make a report via the UNSW complaints portal. 

These complaints will be handled in confidence, and can be made anonymously. The University respects the wishes of those wanting to remain anonymous. However, please keep in mind the University’s ability to investigate an anonymous complaint may be limited and you will also not be provided the outcome of your complaint.

When making a complaint, under ‘complaint type’, choose ‘Other’, and then mark the complaint as ‘foreign government harassment’ in the opening lines of the written statement. 

If you ever feel physically threatened, contact UNSW security.

Talk to someone

If you are unsure whether something is worth reporting, have concerns about how your report is being handled, or would like to talk to someone in more detail about foreign government harassment, please reach out to

All communications are held in complete confidence and any personal information will not be shared without your written permission.

More information

UNSW holds its students and staff to the highest of standards. Here you can find out more about the standards enforced at UNSW and what to do if you suspect a breach of any of these codes has occurred.


At UNSW, we take all complaints very seriously and have dedicated complaint management systems and process in place to seek effective fast and effective resolutions.