Music venues and festival organisers should take steps to prevent sexual harassment and assault on their premises while stamping out the culture that encourages it, according to experts.
UNSW Sydney Lecturer in Criminology Dr Bianca Fileborn said anecdotal evidence indicates widespread issues across the Australian music industry, in part because of a culture that often exploits and objectifies women.
“The music industry is a really male-dominated industry and that has a big impact on the culture. You are not getting women running festivals or managing venues,” she said.
“We need to think about the broader culture that allows this to happen. What kind of imagery are venues and festivals using? Are they friendly and supportive of trans gender patrons, and do they have diversity amongst their staff and the musical line-up?”
Fileborn said venue management could run campaigns and introduce policy that makes it clear to patrons that sexual harassment and assault won’t be tolerated.
“Also, all staff should be aware of the policy, should believe and support victims if they report something, and should take actions to remove the perpetrator from the venue or contact police where appropriate,” she said.
Fileborn is working on a pilot program being developed by the Victorian Government to help train venue staff to identify sexual harassment and assault, and to develop skills to intervene. If successful, she hopes it will be extended across the state and would like to see it adopted nationally.
The momentum for change is being driven by female musicians such as Melbourne indie punk band Camp Cove which is part of the #ItTakesOne campaign launched last year that calls on male music patrons to stop any mistreatment of females they see on or off the stage.
Fileborn added that musicians and artists have a lot of sway with their fans, and with promoters but there is also a broad cultural shift of women speaking out about sexual harassment and sexual violence.
“Women are saying ‘We are not going to stand for this anymore’.”
Dr Bianca Fileborn will speak on November 29 on a panel at the Electronic Music Conference in Sydney about how to create safer spaces for music lovers.
The panel discussion comes in the wake of a growing movement by musicians and singers to address sexual violence in the music industry, such as Canadian rapper Drake, who abruptly stopped his Sydney concert earlier this month to call out a man in the audience he spotted groping women.