Earlier this year, Rockhampton Regional Council and Queensland Police Service Rockhampton stood united in support of women’s safety by endorsing a locally run initiative – the OzAngel program.
Designed to provide businesses with support and resources, OzAngel offers patrons a discreet way to raise the alarm when they feel unsafe in bars, clubs and hotels.
Rockhampton Region Mayor Tony Williams said a supporting the program was one way to let the community know that predatory or threatening behaviour toward women, has no place in our local venues.
“It has been very encouraging to see local businesses get on board with this program,” Mayor Williams said.
“It is sending a clear message that unwanted attention, advances, or any behaviour that makes women feel uncomfortable, whether they are patrons or staff, is unacceptable, and won’t be tolerated in our community.
“As we approach the festive season, it is a timely reminder that everyone has the right to enjoy a safe night out.”
Communities and Heritage Councillor Drew Wickerson, said the focus on women’s safety was a high priority for all levels of government and there was still more to be done at a local level.
“Last month, a state government roundtable was held in Brisbane to discuss women’s safety at Queensland’s licenced venues with stakeholders from the liquor and entertainment industry and community groups,” Cr Wickerson said.
“The roundtable looked at ways to find practical solutions that create lasting change to ensure women are kept safe on a night out – which is certainly a step in the right direction.
“I applaud this program as is it one of those practical solutions venues are adopting to put women’s safety first.”
Queensland Police Service Rockhampton Senior Sergeant Kelly Hanlen said with the festive season upon us, more people are out celebrating with Christmas cheer.
“Unfortunately, the ‘silly season’ can bring some unwanted behaviour,” Ms Hanlen said.
“The OzAngel program is designed to keep women safe at all times and the QPS encourages venue staff and women to utilise the program to stay safe.”
OzAngel Founder Rachael Pearce said in just six months the program has grown rapidly and is now supported by Queensland Government Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation as one of their liquor harm minimisation campaigns.
“We are absolutely thrilled how well the program has been received and, after initially focusing on venues in the Central Queensland, we have now expanded to venues in Mackay, Airlie Beach, Toowoomba and Sunshine Coast districts,” Ms Pearce said.
“The service encourages women who feel they are in an unsafe situation to approach the bar staff and ask for an ‘OzAngel’.
“This is the signal for venue staff to arrange for the patron to be escorted from the venue safely and discreetly.”