Nightlife safety campaign launches

In response to troubling research on sexual harassment experienced within Geelong’s pubs and clubs, local organisations have launched a coordinated campaign to increase safety in the city’s nightlife venues.

Deakin University researchers, local venue operators, Victoria Police and the Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre joined forces last Friday (February 23) to launch the Safe Night Out campaign.

The campaign, which will be phased in over the next year, establishes a common process for venues to deal with unacceptable behaviour, including three to 12 month bans from all participating venues in Geelong and referral to police.

Deakin’s Professor Peter Miller, from the university’s School of Psychology, is leading the campaign after a detailed review of the best strategies on improving safety in nightlife venues from around the world.

He said his own team had discovered an alarming amount of sexual harassment had been experienced in Geelong through their research.

More than half of women (55.6%) and nearly one-third of men (31.7%) involved in the research said they had been the victim of sexual harassment in the past three months.

“Those numbers are alarmingly high, and we know that by raising awareness and implementing some agreed approaches, we can make our local venues much safer,” Professor Miller said.

“Our aim is to create a safe and fun nightlife environment in Geelong.

“This campaign will see police work with venues in the Geelong area to implement an agreed process that aims to disrupt inappropriate behaviour and deter people from acting inappropriately.

“We believe it is time for a more sophisticated response to ensuring a fun night out, and that no person should have to have their night ruined by sexual harassment.”