MADA investigates space, design and gender in new XYX Lab

MADA Senior Lecturer Dr Nicole Kalms and MADA Dean, Professor Shane Murray, were on hand at the National Gallery of Victoria on Sunday (26 March) to officially launch MADA’s new research initiative, XYX Lab.

Led by Dr Kalms, XYX Lab is the first in the world to focus on the way space and design impact on equity and access for women and girls in a range of urban and public transport spaces.

“XYX Lab will move beyond simply plotting the incidence of sexual harassment in Australian public transport spaces to examining the fundamental qualities of the types of spaces and contexts in which sexual harassment is conducive,” said Dr Kalms at the launch.

According to Victoria Police statistics, sexual assaults of females on Victorian public transport spaces account for one in 11 sexual assaults in public spaces, with the figure likely to be much higher due to under reporting.

XYX Lab aims to reduce this risk through a number of initiatives, including three launch projects:

  • In “Pride Thinking / Design Thinking” XYX Lab recently worked with a number of government, agency, and community stakeholders on the development of the Victorian PRIDE CENTRE, a new space that will bring together Melbourne’s LGBTIQ community in a single, powerful space.
  • In “Girl Walk”, XYX Lab is working with Plan International Australia to analyse data from a website and app that enables women to report on their perception of safety within Melbourne.
  • In “Preventing Sexual Harassment”, XYX Lab is examining public transport space solely through the experiences of women and girls to propose strategies and toolkits they can use to reduce risk and fear and policies that can be enacted by stakeholders and policy makers to alleviate the issue’s underlying causes.

Professor Murray explained XYX Lab’s importance. “It highlights the translation of Monash research excellence into real-world solutions. It will bring together leading Monash researchers in partnership with industry, NGOs and government to positively impact the access and safety of women and girls in public spaces.”

For more information on the launch projects, and to follow future work by XYX Lab, visit

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