Assaults at festivals require re-think of sexual safety in public places

Date: Feb 01, 2018

Sexual harassment and assault allegations have overshadowed a number of recent music festivals in Australia and New Zealand.

Three sexual assaults were reported at Falls Festival in Tasmania’s Marion Bay over the new year period. This was the second time that the event was marred by sexual misconduct claims, with five people reporting incidents during the previous year’s festival.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller hit the headlines after claiming her breast was groped at the Rhythm and Vines festival in New Zealand on New Year’s Eve. Video footage of the incident showed her and a friend confront the alleged perpetrator, throwing a drink over the man and slapping him.

These are just a few examples of what some believe is an entrenched culture of sexual violence endemic to music concerts and festivals. Some blame alcohol and drugs for creating an environment where people are encouraged to lose their inhibitions.

Nevertheless, there is a growing public outcry against these incidents, with recent revelations of sexual misconduct across Hollywood spurring the #MeToo and #TimesUp social media movements.

How can festivals reduce sexual assaults?

Bianca Fileborn and Phillip Wadds, lecturers in criminology at the University of NSW, listed various measures that festival organisers can take to prevent or reduce sexual violence.

In an article for The Conversation, they advised organisers to:

  • Introduce a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment and assaults, including punishments and legal ramifications;
  • Train staff, security and volunteers to identify and respond to incidents;
  • Encourage bands and other contributors to take an active stance against sexual violence and call out bad behaviour while on stage;
  • Implement clear reporting avenues for victims of harassment or assault; and
  • Run bystander intervention and harassment prevention campaigns to raise awareness and educate patrons.

“It’s reassuring that efforts to prevent sexual violence at festivals, and to generate broader cultural change within the industry, are taking place,” the pair wrote.

“However, change is slow, and pockets of resistance persist within the sector. This has led some to call for festival boycotts or to ban men from festivals.”

Are sexual assault victims eligible for compensation?

Institutions that fail to prevent sexual assaults and other forms of abuse may be liable to pay compensation, particularly if they were grossly negligent or attempted to cover up crimes.

If you or a loved one is a victim of sexual violence, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for a free over-the-phone or face-to-face consultation. We can advise you on your eligibility to claim and help you take the necessary steps to pursue justice.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.