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Five Australian initiatives working to end sexual misconduct and violence at gigs

Change in Australia's live music culture is long overdue. 

Image source: 
Unsplash/John Price

While there is a surprising lack of research surrounding the frequency of sexual misconduct and violence at live music events, we don’t need percentages to know that it's rampant. Whether you’ve heard about an incident, witnessed something or been a victim, there’s a strong chance that if you go to gigs or festivals, you’ve encountered this kind of behaviour.

Women are usually the ones facing the brunt of harassment and abuse at gigs and festivals. Although it seems as though nothing is being done about it, there are a few organisations working hard to rid the industry of inappropriate behaviour. Whether you think you're at risk of becoming a victim or not, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the initiatives out there and do your part to make live music events safer for everyone.

LISTEN

LISTEN are at the forefront of the push towards inclusivity in the Australian music industry. The organisation is fiercely dedicated to promoting the visibility of female, non-binary and LGBTQIA+ people as well as those with disabilities and people of colour. LISTEN is volunteer-run and hosts live music events, community discussions and a bi-annual conference, and publishes print and digital media, each surrounding the experiences of marginalised people and highlighting issues within the industry.

Your Choice

Your Choice favours prevention over reaction and places the responsibility of creating safe spaces on both patrons and industry organisers. The initiative focuses on a set of ‘House Rules’, full of call-to-arms like “if someone’s doing something dodge, call them out, report it” and “you don’t have the right to touch someone without their permission”. While these rules may seem like common sense, a glimpse at what goes on in crowds indicates otherwise. Through working alongside industry reps, emergency services and government agencies, Your Choice looks to remodel the framework around live music events by introducing preventative strategies.  

1800 RESPECT

1800 RESPECT is a national hotline specialising in sexual assault and domestic family violence. The service operates 24/7, both online and over the phone, to provide help wherever you are, no matter what time it is. 1800 RESPECT is accessible for Australians who are hearing or vision impaired, have difficulty with speech and those who don’t speak English. The trained counsellors on the other end work to guide victims through whatever situation they might be experiencing and allow victims to remain anonymous if they prefer.

Girls Rock

Girls Rock take a different approach when it comes to stamping out inequality in the music industry. The organisation provides a service that empowers women, trans and gender diverse young people through music education. Girls Rock host camps and workshops around Australia, each geared towards building supportive communities, creating opportunities, encouraging social change and equipping music-enthusiasts with industry skills. Established in Canberra in 2015, the Australian leg of Girls Rock has spent years working with young people to create a brighter future for music and attendees.

1800 LANEWAY

Camp Cope have long been pioneers in reforming gig culture and creating safe spaces at live music events, launching their online campaign, It Takes One, in 2016 to encourage victims to report sexual harassment at gigs. The following year, St Jerome’s Laneway Festival followed suit and, inspired by It Takes One, debuted 1800 LANEWAY, a hotline for reporting threatening or disrespectful behaviour, abuse or assault at the festival. The initiative has run annually since its inception in a bid to help stamp out sexual misconduct and violence. Although it is specific to Laneway festival, the concept serves as a jumping off point for other festivals and events.