Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Information Management
Authoring Organisational Unit
Information Technology - Central Unit
Date Approved
22/08/2001 Revised 20/02/2014
Next Review Date
Approving Body

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Offensive Materials on UWA IT Systems

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy outlines the principles and responsibilities concerning the use of offensive materials on University computers and networks and includes regulations, reporting and special circumstances of use.


Information Services - the University division responsible for monitoring the use of any offensive material on University computers and networks.

Offensive Materials - matter that may cause offense or displeasure.

Network - a group of two or more computer systems linked together.

IT User - A person who uses computers to produce, store and retrieve


Policy statement:

Offensive materials are prohibited on University computers and networks. IT users should be aware of what is deemed 'offensive', and ensure that such material is neither present nor shared on University computers and networks. Reporting steps are provided for any offensive material witnessed by other users. In extenuating circumstances, provision may be granted if the material is required for specific academic use.

The following principles define the underlying rules regarding offensive materials.

1 Offensive material must not be created, obtained, stored, transmitted, displayed or communicated using University computers and networks.

1.1 No form of offensive material may be created or stored on a University computer.

1.2 Offensive material, including messages regarded as obscene, pornographic, abusive, fraudulent, threatening and/or unnecessarily repetitive, must not be sent via University network systems, as outlined in the University's Computer and Software Use Regulations.

1.3 Offensive material includes that which is likely to harass, disrespect or cause offense and which is prohibited under Commonwealth and State legislation. It includes, but is not limited to, materials regarded as offensive concerning sex, race, marital status, pregnancy, political conviction, impairment, family responsibility or family status, age, and sexual preference.

1.4 IT users are encouraged to read the University's Equity and Diversity policies regarding sexual harassment, racial harassment and bullying and harassment.

2 Reporting steps available to users, recipients or witnesses of offensive materials.

2.1 Any person who is aware of the existence of offensive material on University IT systems is required to report the matter to their Head of Department, Line Manager or other responsible party.

2.1.1 If the material does not comply with Policy it will be investigated and, pending outcome, the material could be restricted, removed, or the computer may be disconnected from the network.

2.1.2 In cases where unauthorised material is considered extreme, further action may be taken.

3 Legitimate and approved academic use of offensive materials.

3.1 If there is a valid academic reason to obtain, hold or transmit material prohibited under this policy, the user must receive written approval from their Executive Dean or equivalent prior to use.

3.2 If written permission is granted for use of material that may be deemed offensive, every precaution must be taken to ensure the material is not accidentally displayed or transmitted in such a way that may cause offence.

Related forms: (Link)

TRIM File No:


Contact position:

Information Services Policy Officer

Related Policies or legislation:

Computer and Software Use Regulations

Human Resources Equity and Diversity