Examining Sexual Violence in the Music City of Greater Melbourne.
The commissioning of this report has once again put Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, and a globally renowned music city, at the forefront of developing strategies to examine the impact of sexual violence in its urban music spaces.
There were four aims:
1. Aims for an intersectional lens to examine how sexual violence in urban music spaces affects gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race and (dis)ability.
2. Targets victim-survivors in the music city of Melbourne who have until now been largely silenced. This includes the voices of women from all backgrounds as well as culturally and linguistically diverse communities, First Nations and people of colour, those who identify as trans, non-binary and LGBTQIA+ and those with disabilities and/or mental health issues.
3. Assesses how music workers and music participants navigate, deal with and try to prevent exposure to sexual violence.
4. Explores the impact of sexual violence on music participation, music production, music education and the music media spaces.
Summary of findings: As a renowned music city, Melbourne is a powerful cultural and economic force. However, it is clear from the survey of 126 respondents (mostly, cisgender, white women aged between 25 and 44 years) that they do not feel safe in urban music spaces. Sexual violence, mostly groping and general harassment, is at epidemic proportions and normalised in clubs and venues that play rock music. This disempowers music workers, deters others from working in it, and/or participating in the music scenes. As 80% of respondents never reported the incidences, this epidemic will continue unless drastic measures are taken. As the epidemic of sexual violence is holding back Australia’s premier live music city capital and multi-million-dollar music business, clearly, more work needs to be done to address this societal issue.
Five recommendations derived from the survey, centre around strategies to address the music talent drain and waning audiences, which has resulted from this epidemic of sexual violence in the urban music spaces of Greater Melbourne:
1. More effective bystander training and education workshops and skills for venue and security staff to identify and respond to incidents of sexual harassment and assault.
2. More effective policies to address sexual violence.
3. Phone counselling hotline services.
4. Gender and ethnic diversity in music leadership. 5. Music festivals, record labels and radio stations should be excluded from government grants and funds, if they do not meet criteria of gender diversity, inclusion and equity.
Six Gaps in Knowledge: After an extensive literature review, this report also recommend that future research should address these six gaps in knowledge about sexual violence in music cities.
1. Call for more marginalised voices.
2. Move beyond binary opposites.
3. Adopt an intersectional holistic approach.
4. Studies linking gig participation to street harassment.
5. More studies examining safety issues on transport and public urban spaces.
6. Studies that assess the effectiveness of night mayors to manage the music city-night-time economies.
Trigger and Content Warnings: If reading this report causes discomfort, distress or trauma through reliving an incident of sexual violence, there are counselling services, such as Sexual Assault Services Victoria (https://www.sasvic.org.au/) that you may want to refer to. For ongoing assistance, contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) to talk to a counsellor from the National Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence hotline.