Women’s safety to the fore as Dr Andrea Baker leads conversation for change

When it comes to the issue of women’s safety in artistic and urban areas, Dr Andrea Baker, Monash Arts’ Senior Lecturer in Journalism, pulls no punches. ‘I want to speak honestly about the barriers, and to tear them down,’ she says. ‘It’s really that simple.’

On Thursday 23 May, Dr Baker presents ‘Making Space: Building and Designing Safe Spaces’ – a free lunchtime panel discussion and highlight of Monash University’s Progress Festival. Comprised of experts in music, criminology, law, technology and urban architecture, the panel will take a deep dive into the significance of the #metoo movement and the challenges and opportunities presented by digital technology. Pooling their collective expertise, they will suggest innovative strategies for tackling ongoing obstacles to women’s safety in digital, public and creative spaces.

‘We’re aiming to discuss the gendered stories, report the data and offer solutions that will agitate for change across the creative sphere,’ said Dr Baker. ‘We can’t just keep telling the stories. Stories are great, but we need solutions.’

With issues of sexual harassment and misogyny dominating stories about music, theatre, film and visual arts, Dr Baker believes the panel couldn’t come at a more vital time, or in a more topical place. ‘Melbourne is going to be the most populated and the most urban city in our country in about 10 years’ time,’ she said. ‘These issues about safety in cities will potentially get worse.’

‘One in five women have been sexually harassed in Australia. 69 women died in domestic violence situations in this country last year. The statistics are raw and they’re real, and people have to get real about it.’

‘Making Space: Building and Designing Safe Spaces’ takes place on Thursday 23 May, 12.00pm at the Alexander Theatre. Free, registration required. To register and learn about the panel members, click here.