Safe Night Out: reducing sexual harassment in Geelong's nightlife venues

Media release

22 February 2024

A public campaign is being launched in Geelong as researchers from Deakin University, local venue operators, Victoria Police, and the Sexual Assault and Family Violence Centre join forces to stamp out sexual harassment in the city’s nightlife venues.

The Safe Night Out campaign will be phased in over the next 12 months with a focus on building awareness around unacceptable behaviour and encouraging friends and family to speak out and provide support when people feel unsafe.

Importantly, Safe Night Out has an agreed process on dealing with unacceptable behaviour that could result in repeat offenders being banned from partner venues for 12 months.

Led by Professor Peter Miller from Deakin’s School of Psychology, the campaign launch follows a detailed review of evidence from around the world showing the strategies that work best at improving safety in nightlife venues.

'Our aim is to create a safe and fun nightlife environment in Geelong,' Professor Miller said.

'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.'

Research conducted by Professor Miller's team in 2023 found more than 1 in 2 females (55.6%) and almost 1 in 3 males (31.7%) experienced sexual harassment while in a nightlife setting 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.

The campaign will include building public awareness with a focus on mutual respect and encouraging patrons, family, and friends to help others by speaking up and supporting each other.

In the first instance, accused people will be spoken to by venue staff and given the opportunity to modify their behaviour.

If they do not modify their behaviour, patrons engaging in sexual harassment will be removed from the venue and placed on a three month ban from all participating venues in Geelong. Police will be notified as a part of the Liquor Accord process.

More serious behaviour or second offences will be subject to a 12 month ban and referred to the police.

All complaints will be checked against CCTV footage and those accused will have the opportunity to appeal through the Liquor Accord process.

'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,'  Professor Miller said.

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Media release Faculty of Health, School of Psychology