Having safe spaces for women, gender diverse and LGBTQIA+ people to perform in is vital for the strength and inclusivity of our diverse music scene in Melbourne.
There are a few initiatives currently taking place around Melbourne to help create these inclusive, safe spaces so I thought I’d highlight them below, in the hope that other venues and event promoters will take some of these tools and ideas on to promote the use of safer spaces in more events.
In mid-2015 LISTEN and SLAM (Save Live Australia’s Music) joined forces with Jane Garrett, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation to create the live music sexual harassment task force so the music industry can lead the change and take a stand against this behaviour.
I recently had a chat to Helen Marcou of SLAM to get some facts about the task force and the work they’re doing: “I thought we could go further than just a small chapter in a voluntary best practice guide here in Victoria, so I spoke to the minister, Jane Garrett and she agreed to a taskforce to implement policy in licensed venues,” said Marcou. “This was a huge achievement for our group.”
Future initiatives for the taskforce include a training module that will soon be piloted in some live music venues the will help define harassment and abuse and include role play and work on case studies.
As well as the policy work going on behind the scenes, Music Victoria and Cool Room have made some tangible changes to the live music venue scene.
In March 2015 Music Victoria re-released the Best Practice Guide for Live Music Venues with an additional chapter on sexual harassment. This is distributed to all venues and the chapter, written by LISTEN, includes various points on how to manage sexual harassment in venues, including “Recognition that women, and people of diverse gender and sexualities, are primarily the target of sexual harassment and assault by men. However, both can occur to any person, regardless of gender or sexuality.”
Cool Room is also making waves in the safety scene by having a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment and creeps at their club nights. They engage safety and inclusivity officers to work at all of their events and last week I spoke to Elly Scrine, one of the officers about their work: “The idea is that on the night, a safety officer can act as a friendly face and a point of contact for anyone feeling unsafe. We attempt to be as visible and approachable as possible, with photos of ourselves on social media and at the door to the club.”
There is still a long way to go to ensure safe spaces for women, gender diverse and LGBTQIA+ performers in venues and bars, but there are some promising initiatives happening behind the scenes to improve the nightlife in our Melbourne communities.
Look after yourselves, and check out some of these sweet gigs in June.