Following a meeting of the Victorian Live Music Roundtable yesterday, Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Jane Garrett has announced the formation of a special task force to address incidences of sexual assault and harassment of women in licensed venues.

The Victorian Live Music Roundtable brings together music industry representatives, live music venue licensees, government representatives, and Victoria Police to discuss and address various issues affecting the live music industry.

Taking to Facebook, Save Live Australian Music (SLAM) commended the work done by their representatives and those of LISTEN, a local activist group who aim to spark a conversation around women’s experiences in Australian music.

“Incidents of sexual assault and harassment of women in licensed venues and at music festivals is a significant problem and one which needs to be addressed promptly, particularly in order to create safe spaces for women in licensed venues,” Minister Garrett wrote.

“I commend the work currently being undertaken by SLAM and the LISTEN group in this regard and in support of their work request the Live Music Round Table set up a taskforce to implement a policy to address assault and harassment of women in licensed venues.”

“I also recommend that the Best Practice Guidelines for Live Music Venues be reviewed with a view to incorporating a policy to address this problem.” The news comes amid a groundswell of attention focused on the experience of women in live music spaces.

After Yesterday's meeting of the Victorian Live Music Roundtable, we're pleased to announce that Minister for Justice…

Posted by SLAM (Save Live Australia's Music) onTuesday, July 21, 2015

Dr Bianca Fileborn of La Trobe University addressed the issue in a study last year. According to Dr Fileborn, “unwanted sexual attention is a significant problem faced by women – and occasionally men – going out in Melbourne”.

According to Dr Fileborn, of the 230 young people who took part in her survey, 96.6 percent thought that unwanted sexual attention happened in licensed venues and 80.2 percent viewed unwanted sexual attention as being common in Melbourne’s pubs and clubs.

The issue was thrust to the forefront of industry dialogue after LISTEN partnered with venue owner James Young to distribute specific guidelines for venue security staff to follow when it comes to dealing with sexual assault.

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“We now insist on having a female security member on duty and we’re educating our security that if somebody talks about sexual assault, we must believe them in full. The matter will then go to one of our bar managers – not to the security team,” Young told Fairfax.

Young told The Age he was appalled to discover there was no security training module dealing specifically with sexual assault and harassment. “That’s something I’d like to have a hand in introducing,” he said.

“They’re about 20 years behind the police, in that they’re just starting to realise how important it is to have a female on the team,” Naomi Oakley, who owns U-Nome Security, said of the security industry.

While details of the new taskforce are scant at the moment, the incorporation of guidelines for dealing with sexual assault and harassment into the Best Practice Guidelines for Live Music Venues is a significant step forward.

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