Today, Falls Festival have announced a bunch of new national initiatives to address safety and sexual assault at their events. The press release referred to the fact that one in five women experience sexual violence in their lifetime. They wrote it was time they “acknowledge the position Falls holds when it comes to influencing widespread cultural change.”
The wave of new actions are largely focused around support for individuals who report sexual assault at the festivals. This will include sexual assault counselors on site to provide crisis care, ongoing support and be present during medical and police interactions. There are also increased security measures.
The full list of changes they’ve committed to in 2018 are:
- Increasing number of CCTV cameras across the sites
- Increasing security in the camp grounds
- Key event staff to undertake psychological first aid training
- Sexual assault counsellors on site at all events
- Specific training for all event staff in dealing with the reporting of incidences of sexual assault or harassment on site
- Formalising sexual assault incident response protocols for staff and patrons
- Private consultation spaces within the medical area for assault victims
In the statement, the festival said they worked with several groups and individuals to come up with the added services. They also noted that across the 2017/18 Byron Bay event Dr Bianca Fileborn and Dr Phillip Wadds, lecturers in criminology at UNSW, lead teems undertaking an independent research piece which informed the measures.
Last year, three incidents of sexual assault were reported at the Marion Bay Falls Festival. In the days after, Falls Festival co-producer Paul Piticco said, "As a society we need to continue to educate people about consent to eradicate this dreadful behaviour and provide victims with a safe space."
The new actions are part of a larger call for the music industry to take more responsibility for attendees at their events. Groups like Your Choice are pressing the industry to be more active in “starting a conversation around personal and collective responsibilities, addressing actions that impact the overall experience of patrons.” This year we’ve also seen a massive swell in support of harm minimisation and drug testing at festivals.
The Falls team will be issuing more detailed information of numbers to call and locations of services closer to the event via the website, official app and direct patron communications.