On 9 February, the Victorian Government announced its commitment to funding a program aimed at decreasing sexual assault and harassment in live music venues. The trial will involve education of staff and security in nine venues over six to twelve months. Training modules will include responding effectively to incidents, as well as appropriate treatment of victims and perpetrators.
Should the pilot prove effective, the Government will consider a statewide roll out. “We will drive this change from these nine venues to the wider Victorian live music sector,” said Martin Foley, Victorian Minister For Equality And Creative Industries. “We’ll be taking all those recommendations and implementing them all because if we’re serious about making Victoria the live music capital of Australia, we need to make sure that it’s accessible for everyone and that includes being safe.”
Katie Pearson, a Melbourne-based DJ and taskforce member, added that the program should extend to the private security industry. She said, “In an ideal world, I’d like to see security guard training updated, because there’s no mention of sexual assault and harassment in that, and I’d like to see [responsible service of alcohol] training updated.”
Dr Biance Fileborn, a research fellow at the Australian Research Centre of Sex, Health and Society, surveyed 230 young women in 2014. She found that 96% though sexual harassment and violence occurred in venues and that 80% described such incidences as common, yet that many were hesitant to report.
“Women in my research were reluctant to say anything because they didn’t know what sort of response they were going to get, they didn’t know if they were going to be believed or taken seriously,” Dr Fileborn said.
The prevalence of incidences of sexual harassment and assault in live music venues has attracted increasingly intense media attention. On 31 January, Music Australia reported on the launch of St Jerome’s Laneway Festival’s harassment hotline in collaboration with Camp Cope, a Melbourne-based punk trio.